Judge strikes down Wisconsin labor law
A Wisconsin judge on Friday struck down key provisions of a law that conservatives have hailed as necessary to trim runaway spending but liberals slammed as a "union-busting" measure.
But the state's Republican Governor Scott Walker, who championed the law, said he was "confident" the decision would be overturned on appeal.
The bill that radically curbed the power of public sector unions had sparked days of massive rallies, some of which overran Wisconsin's state house in the capital city Madison.
It gutted the collective bargaining powers of state and local government unions on such matters as pensions, health benefits and workplace safety.
In his ruling, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas also largely maintained provisions of the law affecting state workers, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But the decision revoked the law for city, county and school workers, returning the measure to its status before Walker signed it into law in March 2011.
The measure was so despised by Democrats and progressives in the Midwestern state that they tried unsuccessfully to recall Walker halfway through his term because of it in June.
Walker survived the recall effort against him by a comfortable margin.
He condemned Colas's ruling, saying it came from a "liberal activist judge" who "wants to go backwards."
"The people of Wisconsin clearly spoke on June 5th. Now, they are ready to move on. Sadly a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the law making responsibilities of the legislature and the governor," Walker said in a statement.
"We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process."
Since the June vote, Walker has become something of a folk hero to conservatives across the United States hoping to introduce similar reforms in their states.
Democrats and union supporters insisted that Walker had only prevailed because of a flood of outside money that poured into the state, allowing the governor's backers to outspend his opponents by a margin of seven to one.
Wisconsin was one of a number of key battleground states that swept President Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and then saw its state legislature come under Republican control in the 2010 mid-term elections.
The state is seen as once again being in play for either party in the November election that pits Obama, a Democrat, against Republican challenger and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
A recent CBS/New York Times poll gave Obama 50 percent voter support in the state, against 45 percent for Romney.