A county judge in Wisconsin on Friday temporarily halted implementation of the state's controversial union law after Democrats filed a lawsuit saying Republicans violated state law during its passage.

WISC-TV reported Judge Maryann Sumi issued the restraining order so the case can be heard in court. The law was set to go into effect March 25.


Following the passage last week of what GOP Gov. Scott Walker called a "budget repair" bill, Democrats accused Republicans of violating the state's open meetings law when it created a special legislative committee to rush the bill to the floor without giving notice 24 hours in advance. The state Senate passed the legislation without the chamber's 14 Democrats, who had fled to Illinois to boycott it. 

Republicans in the state legislature were able to bring the measure to the floor after they stripped several fiscal provisions from it. With that language included, the GOP needed a quorum of senators to pass the bill, which they did not have because Democrats were absent.

The ruling is a blow to Walker, who earned a major victory over Democrats by passing the law but who has faced backlash among union leaders who say the law is an "assault" on the labor movement. 

“Judge Sumi confirmed today what we knew all along – that the bill stripping hundreds of thousands of hard working Wisconsinites of their voice on the job was rammed through illegally in the dark of the night," Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt said in a statement.

State officials have said they will appeal the ruling.

The law, which limits collective bargaining rights for public employees, gained national attention after opponents organized massive protests against it. Both political parties used the law in a proxy debate over the nation's federal deficit and debt.

-- This post was updated at 1:10 p.m.