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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Federal Judicial Overreach Corrected, Sanity Restored

Sanity restored
The Washington Post - EDITORIAL - June 28, 2010

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS JR., a federal judge in Maryland, committed one of the more egregious recent acts of judicial overreach last year when he decided that he -- not local elected officials -- would determine budget priorities in Prince George's County. Last week, his decision was resoundingly reversed by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Local governments around the country should breathe a sigh of relief, and trial judges take note. Judge Williams, of the U.S. District Court for Maryland, ruled in favor of unions representing Prince George's government workers who complained that the county had acted unconstitutionally by breaking their contract and imposing furloughs -- in effect, pay cuts -- in 2008. By imposing furloughs, the county avoided layoffs. And it still managed to give its employees net salary increases thanks to across-the-board merit raises and cost-of-living adjustments. That wasn't enough to satisfy the lawmaker lurking inside Judge Williams. He acknowledged that state and local governments are not tightly bound by contracts since they are also legally obligated to preserve key government functions and services during economic slumps. But he insisted that the county had better alternatives to furloughs -- for instance, slashing funds for the community college. Of course, those are exactly the sort of judgments that lawmakers, not judges, are elected to make. Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Robert B. King said that local governments are within their rights to furlough employees in fiscal emergencies. If unions representing government workers object to furloughs, the judge wrote, they may try to get the county to agree to rule them out as part of contract negotiations (though a county would be foolish to hamstring itself in that fashion). Barring that, the court decided, local governments have a good deal of leeway to make whatever budget cuts they wish. Judge Williams's ruling last summer sent a chill through state and local governments nationwide, as elected officials wondered whether the courts would usurp one of their essential roles: setting budget priorities. With its ruling, the appeals court has restored some sanity.


Wake up and smell the law said...

Yes, Yes, Yes.
Yes, Yes, Yes.

Hear YEE, Hear YEE said...

To the above comment..they need to smell more than the Law..They NEED to smell the inside of a JAIL CELL!!!

Anonymous said...

Judges acting badly, what else is new?

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2