Federal judge strikes down portion of budget repair bill

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal court has struck down portions of Wisconsin's law curbing collective bargaining rights, saying dues can be automatically withdrawn and annual certification votes can't be required.

The ruling Friday keeps the majority of the law pushed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in place. A coalition of unions filed the lawsuit last summer shortly after the law was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The lawsuit argued that the law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking away union rights to bargain, organize and associate and illegally discriminates among classes of public employees.

U.S. District Judge William Conley in an order Friday, March 30th, rejected the argument that the law violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. But he ordered that automatic dues withdrawal be reinstated no later than May 31.

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