Wis. appeals court doesn't rule over union law

Demonstrators make their voices heard as legislators deliberate a controversial budget bill in the Assembly room of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison, Wis., Thursday, March 10, 2011. Demonstrations at the capitol have intensified as House members gathered to vote on an amended version of Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. The bill, which passed the state Senate earlier, largely strips public employees of bargaining rights. AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart

MADISON, Wis. -- A Wisconsin appeals court says the state Supreme Court should decide whether a law that takes away nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers should be allowed to take effect.

A majority of the seven-member Supreme Court must agree to take it or it would remain in the appeals court.

The 4th District Court of Appeals said Thursday it is appropriate for the state's highest court to take the case because it presents significant issues that are likely to end up before the Supreme Court anyhow.

A Dane County judge issued a restraining order last week preventing Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, saying Republicans violated the state open meetings law when passing it.

The measure, which would scale back most public workers' collective bargaining rights, was backed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. It engendered intense opposition from Democrats, unions and union supporters. Massive protests took place in Wisconsin for weeks as the legislature considered the bill, and all of the Wisconsin state senators fled the state in February to stall a vote on the measure.

State Senate Republicans, however, tweaked the bill so that they could pass it without Democrats present, and the state Assembly quickly passed the new version.

Walker signed the bill last week, and until the restraining order went into place, it was slated to officially become law on March 25.

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