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Willig, Williams & Davidson Attorney Named a 2019 ‘Unsung Hero’

June 28, 2019

John R. Bielski recognized for work challenging – and ultimately enjoining – Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law, which threatened to disenfranchise urban, low income, minority, elderly, and disabled voters

PHILADELPHIA (June 2019) ­– Willig, Williams & Davidson is proud to announce that attorney John R. Bielski has been named an Unsung Hero in The Legal Intelligencer’s 2019 Professional Excellence Awards in recognition of work that helped to permanently enjoin Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law.

The case had an enormous impact on Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately found that the Voter ID law, originally passed in 2012, violated the state’s residents’ fundamental right to vote, and enjoined its enforcement. The final decision of the Commonwealth Court imposed a permanent injunction against the law. 

“I am proud to have been part of this effort, and can think of no better use of my law degree than protecting the fundamental right to vote,” said Bielski.

In March 2012, then-Gov. Tom Corbett signed into a law a controversial bill that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls. Passed along party lines, the bill was among the most restrictive in the country and was promptly challenged by several groups. Bielski was asked to take the lead in challenging the statute on behalf of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

With input from colleagues, Bielski drafted two briefs, one supporting a request for a preliminary injunction of the Voter ID law before the Commonwealth Court, which was denied, and one seeking a reversal of the Commonwealth Court’s decision before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which was granted. Ultimately, on remand to the Commonwealth Court, the statute was preliminarily enjoined throughout the 2012 election, and permanently enjoined a year later. Today, while the Voter ID statute remains on the books in Pennsylvania, it has no force of law, and the General Assembly never sought to reenact it. 

“The Voter ID law undermined our most fundamental right as citizens – the right to vote freely and fairly to determine our elected leaders,” said firm Managing Partner Deborah R. Willig. “Willig, Williams & Davidson recognizes the incredible work John undertook to help protect the right to vote.”

In addition to election and campaign finance law, Bielski focuses his practice on labor law and the representation of unions. He has handled a wide range of matters related to collective bargaining, union representation, wage and hour issues and employment discrimination. He appears on behalf of clients in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, Philadelphia Civil Service Commission, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, among others.

About Willig, Williams & Davidson – Willig, Williams & Davidson (www.wwdlaw.com) is one of the largest and most respected union-side labor law firms in the United States. The firm has offices in Philadelphia, Jenkintown and Harrisburg, Pa., as well as Haddonfield, N.J., and Chicago, Ill. Founded in 1979, Willig, Williams & Davidson focuses on representing labor unions, employee benefit funds and individual working people and their families on a variety of legal fronts, including national, regional and local contract negotiations; dispute resolution through mediation, arbitration and litigation; tax and benefit law compliance issues; discrimination and other employment matters; prepaid legal services for union members; and workers’ compensation matters in Philadelphia and beyond.

   
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