15 March 2006
Third second thoughts
The 2004 measure which permitted municipal employees of the state's largest cities to unionize went through a series of legal challenges, the most serious of which claimed that it was contrary to the state constitution to enact a law which applied only to those cities.
The state Supreme Court, five to four, has now decided otherwise, and the law will stand.
Posted at 7:20 AM to Soonerland
Yeah, I think the "only those cities" claim was misguided but deserved hearings. It's a tricky point of law: it's perfectly fine for a law or regulation to apply only to some people or entities, provided that it's not targeted at specific people or entities (a bill of attainder), and that it treats everyone to whom it applies fairly.
"Cities with more than 35,000 residents" is fine for the same reasons that businesses with "fewer than 15 employees" can be exempt from certain laws and regulations - the law judges the problems not to affect cities or businesses under a certain size. "The ten largest cities" is not fine for the same reason - it's a relative rank, not an absolute size, and would treat bubble cities unfairly.
(Same concept as to why a tax bracket of "anyone earning over $100 million per year" is fine, but one of "the four wealthiest people" is not. Inclusion in the class has to be objective.)
If the effect of the law had been to target only a few cities in specific, it should have been overturned. The State Supremes now feel it was legitimately intended to apply to all cities over a minimum size, even if there are few of them, so it should stand.
Of course, the lege is free to repeal it, if they have money left from defending the Ten Commandments against radical armies of lawyers who are crashing planes into the tablets in a heretical attempt to force people to read their Bibles...
There was indeed a bill to repeal it, which got nowhere; I expect there will be a new one introduced in the wake of this decision.