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Originally published Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 10:53 AM

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SC AG asks judge to dismiss Boeing union lawsuit

South Carolina's attorney general told a federal judge Thursday that he should dismiss a union's lawsuit against Gov. Nikki Haley after she said she would fight to keep unions out of the Boeing Inc. plant in North Charleston.

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. —

South Carolina's attorney general told a federal judge Thursday that he should dismiss a union's lawsuit against Gov. Nikki Haley after she said she would fight to keep unions out of the Boeing Inc. plant in North Charleston.

Haley nominated Catherine Templeton in December to run the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and said Templeton's union-fighting background would be helpful in state fights against the labor groups, particularly at Boeing.

"She is ready for the challenge," Haley said at the time. "We're going to fight the unions and I needed a partner to help me do it." And Templeton said she would "do everything we can to work with Boeing and make sure that their work force is taken care of, that they run efficiently and that we don't add anything unnecessarily."

The International Association of Machinists cited those remarks in a lawsuit last month that said the actions of the governor and Templeton effectively intimidate workers so that they don't join or support unions.

But Attorney General Alan Wilson said Thursday that Haley and Templeton are within their rights.

"First and foremost, both the governor and director of the LLR have a right to free speech in their official capacities," Wilson said in his lawsuit response. "A government official does not shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression upon the taking of public office."

Besides, Wilson notes, neither Haley nor Templeton had officially taken office when the remarks were made, which means their remarks were personal rather than an effort to use their offices to thwart unions.

A union spokesman had not seen Wilson's response and had no immediate comment.

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