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Judge tosses Wisconsin union reform: Why judges are dismantling the GOP agenda

A judge has ruled against Wisconsin’s controversial collective bargaining law. Across the country, state and federal judges are weighing whether the 2010 Republican surge led to legislative overreach.

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Teachers rally at the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison Friday. A state judge has ruled that the state's controversial collective bargaining law violates workers’ equal rights under the Constitution.

M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal/AP

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A year after Wisconsin exploded in protest over Republican legislation to gut collective bargaining for public employees, a Wisconsin judge has nullified the law, ruling on Friday that it violates workers’ equal rights under the Constitution.

Those dramatic union reforms and the political theater it sparked last year turned Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker into a Republican hero and helped balance the state’s budget.

The new rules, which curtailed bargaining rights for most unionized public employees, also sparked protests and sit-ins at the Wisconsin capitol and resulted in a recall effort that Governor Walker survived earlier this year, all of which seemed to cement majority political agreement with the Republican political agenda.

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With its focus on a signature Republican law, Friday’s ruling also highlights a series of state and federal rulings over the past year that have turned back major tenets of a Republican agenda fueled by the massive electoral victories the party brought home in November 2010, when it took over the House of Representatives and won nine governorships. Subsequently, a large number of state voter ID laws, immigration laws, and redistricting laws passed by Republicans since 2010 have faltered or failed in the courts.

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