Wisconsin GOP Will Ignore Injunction, Implement Collective Bargaining Law

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Administration are setting themselves up for a showdown with the state’s judiciary with their decision to implement the provisions of the recently passed collective bargaining law despite the fact that a state trial court judge has ordered that it not be implemented:

State officials have not stopped putting in place changes to collective bargaining rules for public employees despite a judge’s order barring the law’s implementation — and a threat of sanctions against anyone who violates it.

Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said Wednesday he has a legal obligation to implement all laws passed by the Legislature, signed by Gov. Scott Walker and published into law. Huebsch said the Department of Justice and his own legal counsel, a team of DOA attorneys, agree the measure has met those requirements “and is now effective law.”

“It is my duty to administer that law,” he said.

Huebsch’s latest comments raise questions about whether he or others could face sanctions following a hearing Tuesday, when Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said any further implementation of the law is prohibited under a temporary court order.

“Now that I’ve made my earlier order as clear as it possibly can be, I must state that those who act in open and willful defiance of the court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions, they also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin,” Sumi said Tuesday.


Huebsch said the legal effect of Sumi’s order on his ability to implement the law is “unclear.” Changes under the law were being implemented this week, but public employees won’t see them until their April 21 paychecks, with increases in health insurance premiums and retirement contributions, as well as a stop to automatic collection of union dues, Huebsch said Monday.

Huebsch pointed out that the DOA is not a party to the lawsuit and said Sumi’s order fails to state the law is not in effect. “It is unclear how she can issue an order binding non-parties to a case who have not had their day in court,” he said.

The letter of the injunction may give Huebsch some breathing room here, but it’s quite apparent that any further implementation of the law would violate the spirit of Judge Sumi’s ruling, and that she’s likely to look unkindly on any effort to implement the law in defiance of her order.  This is likely to come up when Sumi holds another hearing in the case tomorrow, at which point she could end up expanding the scope of her injunction yet again, or sanctioning the Governor’s attorneys for violating her order.

It strikes me that Walker and the GOP are playing with fire here. Rather than trying to openly defy a Court Order, with the inevitable consequences that are likely to result, it would be far more appropriate for them to challenge the TRO through the appellate process, which they are in fact already doing. Acting in this manner carries with it the risk of being held in contempt, and as Allahpundit notes, that would only serve to hand a huge strategic victory to their opponents.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gustopher says:

    Perhaps they will try the “our obnoxious actions have prejudiced the judge against us” argument for the appeal.

  2. wr says:

    I honestly can’t figure out the strategy here. The Republicans have lost the middle class, probably for generations, with their union busting. I know that some of the crazier Tea Partiers will be cheering them on for this insanity, but they’ve got the Tea Party. Surely they risk losing the support of independents and even some Republicans if they become the government that rules by fiat, ignoring court orders. Are they just nuts?

  3. Debbe says:

    Come on, the states are broke. The unions are in bed with the democrats and are walking all over these teachers. Why is it that all union employees are out for only themselves? Selfish, that’s what they are. I pay out of my pocket so they can retire with full benefits when they are in their early 50’s? Give me a job with as many days off as them and one where I have the entire summer off. AND, due to tenure, horrible teachers are teashing our students and from what I understand, the schools in Wisconsin are not the highest rated!!!

    Denocrats….the more educated, the less common sense.

    Don’t worry, 10 years from now, this country will be full of illegals and it won’t matter anyways!

  4. Davebo says:

    Debbe seems to have covered all the bases.

    Corrupt unions

    Lazy incompetent teachers

    A unsupported claim she “heard” about the quality of WI schools

    And illegal aliens.

  5. Barry says:

    wr says:
    Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 10:22

    “I honestly can’t figure out the strategy here. The Republicans have lost the middle class, probably for generations, with their union busting. I know that some of the crazier Tea Partiers will be cheering them on for this insanity, but they’ve got the Tea Party. Surely they risk losing the support of independents and even some Republicans if they become the government that rules by fiat, ignoring court orders. Are they just nuts?”

    As Debbe exemplifies, there are a lot of middle-class Americans who would happily support union busting, for the sheer reason that union members have it better than they do. And the argument about ‘my tax dollars support unions….’ is almost always made by people who don’t sustain that outrage when corporations are sucking the money.

    The GOP figures that destroying unions will damaged organized Democratic support, and demoralize many union members (whom the GOP reasonably expects to hop on the GOP bandwagon with a rousing cry of “if I don’t have it let’s destroy anybody who does”).

  6. Sparky says:

    First of all, the discussion here is about the WI Repubs violating open meeting laws and continuing to violate a court order and the potential consequences of that violation.
    Second and most importantly, I’m really sorry you gave up your right to collectively bargain in order to make a living wage at a menial job in the private sector. I’m sorry that you perceive public servants as gold bickers when they provide you the services that you would complain about it you didn’t get from your government. I’m also sorry that you don’t see what unions have done for the working class you purport to be part of. what I’m really sorry about is that you’ve been lied to so much that you don’t see that this isn’t the private sector against the public sector. This is the rich against the middle class. you are actually on our side and we are fighting for your rights even if you don’t realize it.

  7. Sparky says:

    i also think that it’s important to remember that April 4th 2011 will 43 anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King who was attending a rally to protect the collective bargaining rights of Garbage workers when he was shot.

  8. Gulliver says:

    What is the sound of a judge throwing a temper tantrum? This will be interesting in how it plays out because, ultimately, the judge doesn’t really have the authority to override the legislature.

  9. Sparky says:

    AAAAnd this is old news.
    “Scott Walker’s administration has reversed itself and suddenly decided to comply with the judicial ruling halting the implementation of the bill stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights.” the story’s here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/judge-rules-wis-collective-bargaining-law-not-in-effect-officials-say-governor-to-comply/2011/03/31/AFsJFa9B_story.html

  10. Rita says:

    The Suni snag is a place keeper for union extorters to do their thing, but in the end but in the end the governor wins and Suni the bully is exposed as the emporer with no clothes. How dare she mettle in legislation with nothing but her gavel as substance?

  11. Kevin says:

    Political theater. Judge Suni can’t rule here. This is Senate business she is making her ruling on, and she’s not in the Senate. Separation of powers and all. Oh, and she is wrong. I’ve read the Senate rules and they were followed to the letter. Scott Walker won. Time to move on.

  12. Jack says:

    Judge Sumi’s TRO will be overturned at the appellate level because the WI trial court cannot, under WI law, issue an injunction on a bill that has not yet become a law. Judge Sumi in her order has stated the bill is not a law yet, thus under WI law she can not lawfully enjoin the enactment of the bill into law. Once the bill is enacted into law it is possible for a judge to issue a TRO based upon the issue of a WI open meeting law violation. The whole series of legal actions has become so politicized that confidence in the WI judicial system has been undermined.