Wisconsin labor union bill OKed by state's top court

Paula Duffy's picture

The legislation that caused tens of thousands to protest and 14 state senators to flee to Illinois to avoid a vote, can now go into effect.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a challenge to the legislation was insufficient to keep it from becoming the law of the state of Wisconsin. A link to the court document is posted below.

Democrats had filed suit to keep the bill from being codified, despite it having passed through the legislature and signed by the governor. Its provisions strips civil service unions of collective bargaining rights to material terms of their employment and requires that members pay more for some of their benefits.

Governor Scott Walker insisted the measure was necessary to help remedy a huge state budget deficit. He remained steadfast in his belief that the legislation was the right thing to do, despite Democratic Senators leaving the state to deny the Republican majority a voting quorum.

Walker lived through his capitol building being swarmed by protestors, the vast majority of whom were sympathetic to the Democrats' stance, and whose numbers grew with each day the state senators refused to come home.

The Wisconsin 14, as they were dubbed held out for more than two weeks and then returned to the state. They eventually had to do so and did when it became clear there would be no change in Walker's position.

In a bit of parliamentary maneuvering, the governor took the provisions of the labor union bill out of the state budget legislation, making it a standalone measure. In that way he was able to get a vote in the state senate without the necessity of a quorum. The bill was about to become law when Democrats instituted litigation, accusing Republicans of violating the state open meetings law during the run-up to passage.

A local county judge issued a temporary restraining order and Governor Walker's administration petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to vacate the stay. The state's highest court ruled on the matter today. Its decision cited the lack of authority by the country judge to halt the legislation from taking effect.

As a result of the acrimony surrounding the legislation, Wisconsin Democrats and then their Republican counterparts began to circulate petitions to recall state senators. Nine Republicans and three Democrats are facing recall elections on July 12 for the GOP and July 19 for the Democrats. The state Democratic party used the names of the senators who left the state on t-shirts to raise campaign funds. That story, here.

Partisans have threatened to delay the elections by running opponents against those being recalled, rendering them primaries rather than general elections. The full story and the news about the recall elections can be found, here.

Link to Wisconsin Supreme Court decision.


So, what will the consequences now be for the local Judge that erroneously attempted to halt the bill from becoming law? A very liberal judge at that... I thought judges were supposed to be non-partisan?

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