The Indiana Supreme Court on Friday put on hold a lower court judge's ruling striking down the state's right-to-work law and denied a request that it be consolidated with a similar case, clearing the way for the justices to hear oral arguments on the issue next week.
The ruling signed by new Chief Justice Loretta Rush stays an order by Lake County Judge George Paras in July that determined the right-to-work law violates the state constitution by forcing unions to provide services to workers without payment. That ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the United Steelworkers union, which represents more than 5,000 steel mill employees in northwest Indiana.
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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller appealed the case to the Supreme Court after Paras rejected his request to put his ruling on hold until the Supreme Court could decide the issue.
Lake County Superior Court Judge John Sedia also struck down the law in September 2013 in a separate case, involving the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, but stayed it from taking effect. That is the case the Indiana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday.
The Supreme Court on Friday also declined to consolidate those two cases because the case involving the operating engineers has been fully briefed and is ready for oral arguments, while briefs hadn't been filed in the United Steelworkers case.
Indiana became the first state in the Rust Belt to approve right-to-work after two chaotic sessions of the General Assembly marked by a walkout of House Democrats in 2011 and periodic boycotts by the same caucus in 2012. The issue drew thousands of protesters to the Statehouse between 2011 and 2012.