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Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Collective Bargaining Law

Putting an end to at least the legal aspects of a battle that started in the late winter, the Wisconsin Supreme Court today rejected the legal challenge that had been filed against the state’s public employee collective bargaining law:

Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to all but end collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.

The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when they hastily approved the measure and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had struck down the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.

The majority opinion was by Justices Michael Gableman, David Prosser, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. The other three justices – Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks – concurred in part and dissented in part.

The opinion voided all orders in the case from the lower court. It came just before 5 p.m., sparing Republicans who control the Legislature from taking up the contentious issue of collective bargaining again.

Legislative leaders had said they would have inserted the limits on collective bargaining into the state budget late Tuesday if the court hadn’t acted by then. But the high court ruled just before that budget debate was to begin.

(…)

The court ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi’s ruling, which had held up implementation of the collective bargaining law, was void ab initio, or invalid from the outset.

In its decision, the state’s high court concluded that “choices about what laws represent wise public policy for the state of Wisconsin are not within the constitutional purview of the courts.”

The court added that its role is limited to determining whether the Legislature employed a “constitutionally violative process in the enactment of the act. We conclude that the Legislature did not violate the Wisconsin Constitution by the process it used.”

Ironically, since the decision was handed down before July 31st, the much-contested election between Justice Prosser and Joann Kloppenberg had no real effect on the outcome of the case. Even if Prosser had lost, he still would have sat on the Court until July 31, 2011 when his term ended and he still would have been able to vote on this case. What the political impact this will have on the recall elections next month remains to be seen.

Here’s the opinion:

State of Wisconsin ex rel v. Fitzgeral et al

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It’s amusing watching the left-wing media gesticulate and gnash their collective teeth while describing this ruling. The words “polarizing” and “controversial” already are being embedded into headlines and lede grafs.

    In any event, this is good news for fans of judicial restraint and the proper separation of powers. It’s very good news for the taxpayers of Wisconsin. Bad news, of course, for that state’s liberal Zombiedroid community.

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  2. A voice from another precinct says:

    “choices about what laws represent wise public policy for the state of Wisconsin are not within the constitutional purview of the courts.”

    Does the above statement have a “damning with faint praise” quality to it, or is it just my imagination?

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  3. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when they hastily approved the measure and made it possible for the Senate to take it up.

    I am shocked SHOCKED I tell you, that a majority of conservative judges found that the “Open meetings laws” do not apply to Republican legislatures.

    OK, I am not a lawyer, do not pretend to know the law, but even I can see that the Law is an ass.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    And if I was not clear enuf, How in the hell can a committee of lawmakers NOT be subject to a states “open meetings laws”?

    “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” I hear taps.

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  5. Dan Rather says:

    I hear taps.

    tom p nails it: this country is certainly doomed if individual local partisan judges are not given full and unfettered authority – despite the clear language of the state Constitution! – to arbitrarily and capriciously decide which laws the legislative branch is allowed to pass.

    (Bwahahahahaha! You leftist drama queens are hilarious!)

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  6. PD Shaw says:

    Am I reading this right, all of the justices agreed that the trial judge was wrong to enjoin the law?

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  7. Rock says:

    Looks like Judge Sumi got bitch slapped.

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  8. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    Is it just me or do righties always seem too quick to declare “mission accomplished” and call it a day?

    Well, before you righties break out the bongs and start burning Saul Alinsky in effigy, let me be the one to bring you back to reality. (I know, I know, reality can be pretty scary to you righties–which is why a lot of you don’t live in it.)

    I think it was relatively clear to anyone paying attention to the details that Sumi’s injunction wasn’t going to stand. Legislatures are funny creations; they often do not have to operate under the very laws they legislate, and certainly they would not be constrained by a law that would seriously undermine their very function as interpreted by a mere state district judge. I actually agree with the WI Supreme Court’s decision in this matter. Sumi did overstep the bounds of the judiciary.

    However, the legal fight over the anti-union bill really has just begun. It’s going to be challenged on several more solid grounds, none of which will be summarily taken up and dismissed as easily as this one. This one was a slam dunk, frankly.

    Sure, Walker’s anti-union bill may ultimately stand, but it’s not going to get out of litigation as easily as it did today.

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  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    Its gonna be very sad in Entitlementville tonight:(

    lol…..

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  10. PD Shaw says:

    “Am I reading this right, all of the justices agreed that the trial judge was wrong to enjoin the law?”

    No, the dissenting justices think the majority is rushing to judgment and would decide the case in a later appeal.

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  11. Lit3Bolt says:

    Thank you, every conservative comment, for proving yet again that your ideology is nothing more than “whatever liberals hate.”

    I hate people jumping off cliffs. Get on that, yo.

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  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    GA,

    You USE entitlements. How can you be angry at a government handing out entitlements that you yourself use? I’m not making fun of you for being on them, and I wish you fortune soon, but I honestly can’t understand how you can simultaneously use food stamps, unemployment, medicaid, etcetera (I don’t know exactly which ones you are on), and be angry at other people getting the same treatment as you, and then take glee at their losing it. Please, please, please explain.

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  13. Ben Wolf says:

    @Neil

    Because he hates and loves those entitlements, as he hates and loves himself.

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  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    Neil. I guess you got to live here. The chaos caused in my capital must be seen to be believed.Entitlementville is in reference to the tent city that protesters have erected in my Capitol called Walkerville, paid for and organised by the usual suspects.A true insult to those who had to live in and had to use in the past.

    like I said I barely even get food stamps/quest card, my unemployment has run out which I worked for(and dang sure gonna get mine) and I am having a very hard time getting work even that things are picking up here. The reason why my unemployment was cut off.

    Once again I have no problem helping those in need, I have done it all my life.

    Oh and I can get no insurance at all.All I have is the little bit of superman(it’s life ins.) that I can’t even pay for anymore.

    You will be happy to know that I try to use the 160 I get for food as best as I can and use some of it to give a meal here and there to my friends in need.

    I am “angry” at people who live off the backs of the people.People with well paid government jobs and fully paid for benefits that cry and lie like little children when the find out the have to make sacrifices like the rest of us who give them such a lavish lifestyle and security.

    Government handouts and how and why they are handed out are a different story all together.

    Sorry I was not clear.

    Thanks for the good wishes, and please remember I am all about giving the poor a hand up and helping the needy, I just have issues with the way and reason it is done.

    I thought you would have known this about me already, but I can figure, that in all of my being a wise$$ and in all of my quasi intellectual vagary and crappy use of the written English language and see that you probably missed it or that I have left you with a different suggestion then I had intended or thought I was convoying:)

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  15. Ben Wolf says:

    Think about GA. He lives in a world of absolutes. This is good, that is not. This is right, that is wrong. The bible and Glenn Beck say so, and they can never be wrong. One of those things he knows to be wrong is government. Someone told him so, and that’s just the way it is.

    But one day, he found he needed government. He needed evil. He himself can’t be evil, the Bible and Rush Limbaugh told him he is in fact Good. But he needs the government. Therefore, rather than rethink his core beliefs (he doesn’t need to because he is, of course, Right), he creates within his mind a textbook case of cognitive dissonance.

    In this case government is justified. Because I am good and know the Truth, government entitlements taken by me are ok. I’m not one of the leaches, the thieves, the layabouts refusing to work and provide for themselves. I am Good.

    Of course in his subconcious he knows this isn’t really true. He is no different from anyone else who has ever found themselves forced to rely on the charity of their society. And that is why (though not in ten thousand years will he acknowledge this), he feels a secret self-loathing which expresses itself as contempt for others in the same situation.

    How can he reconcile the dissonance? By taking away entitlements from everyone, everywhere. That way he will no longer be forced to give into his weakness and accept that assistance. He can’t stop himself from accepting it, so his only recourse in restoring his self-respect is to eliminate the assistance entirely.

    I don’t know where GA is from, but this is a mindset extremely common in the South where I grew up. The whites taking entitlements were those most opposed to any sort of government assistance, to anyone. Their shame is externalized and focused on those they believe to be morally inferior to themselves, but deep down they simply can’t handle the fact they are no different.

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  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    Because he hates and loves those entitlements, as he hates and loves himself.

    look here new guy, see my hand? lol… go judge yourself!!! I don’t give two Donkeypoops for your non humor indoctroinsky!!! Me and Hercules is talking!!!

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  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    I don’t know where GA is from

    I am from the streets of Racine WI. right in between Chicago and Milwaukee.

    lol, and Ben, what a bunch of programed drivel.

    I have read the same exact crap a million times before here, please save it….

    And can we please stop talking about me, I really hate that, lol…..

    We are gonna get accused of being hijackers…..:(

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  18. Neil Hudelson says:

    GA,

    Thank you for the explanation. Best wishes in finding a job and health insurance.
    -Neil

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  19. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    G.A.–

    Neil. I guess you got to live here. The chaos caused in my capital must be seen to be believed.Entitlementville is in reference to the tent city that protesters have erected in my Capitol called Walkerville, paid for and organised by the usual suspects.A true insult to those who had to live in and had to use in the past.

    G.A., I live in Milwaukee, so you don’t get to be the only Decider on what is happening in Madison. Naturally I have been following this issue closely and I was even there for the protests myself on one occasion. The general righty characterization of them as chaotic and destructive isn’t even close to accurate.

    You try to make it out as if it’s a bunch of dirty hippies smoking pot and flipping off The Man while vandalizing or destroying acres of property. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this characterization, as you righties are still, amazingly, traumatized by the ’60’s even after two generations and even though half of you were in diapers when it happened and probably have never even met a hippie in your life.

    However, when I was there, there was only a lot of chanting and speechifying and orderly marching around the capitol by people who looked like regular joes and janes of all stripes. I should also mention the police officers and firefighters who were there, off-duty and in uniform, supporting the protesters.

    Of course, things get trampled a bit when 50,000 people show up at your doorstep every day for over 30 days straight, and, sure, some things get vandalized. But not anywhere near the extent righties have asserted or implied; in fact, if you remember, the original estimate of $7,000,000 in damage was wildly inaccurate and quickly reduced to some $400,000–mostly from simply that many people’s physical presence and not from hooligans and scofflaws. But, again, that’s to be expected when that many people show up and is the regular price of doing business in a democracy.

    The reactionary right has a strange sense of protest propriety. They love democracy but hate democratic action. They think people should only protest quietly, and when called upon after raising their hand, and only after sitting in orderly chairs, and only on non-controversial issues, and only if they agree they’re wrong. Then protests are OK… maybe. Well, that might work for a laughable 500 Tea Partiers who show up to “protest” something or other, but that is not how reality works when people REALLY show up to protest and make themselves heard. Would Gandhi have succeeded under this definition–oh, wait, that’s right, he and MLK were dirty hippies too.

    Sorry, G.A., but the shantytown “Walkerville” is a deliberate visual creation to bring to the fore the draconian policies of the Walker administration and his legislative underlings. And the fact that you dislike it tells me it’s having the effect it intended to have.

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