Do Challenges to Wisconsin Labor Bill Have Merit? No.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "Self-interest is the enemy of all true affection." The passion with which public employee unions are fighting the common sense financial reforms of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is certainly understandable -- their golden goose hangs in the balance. That they stand to lose so much underscores the importance and timeliness of Walker's bill.
Governor Walker has stood his ground, and the world seems shocked that a politician has actually done what he said he would. After stripping the budget repair bill of financial issues so that the bill could be voted on -- because 14 Democrats had cowardly fled the state -- the bill passed. The public employee unions, seeing that their ox had been gored, concocted a minor open meeting violation regarding a March 9 conference committee meeting and found a liberal judge, Maryann Sumi, to agree with them. She signed a temporary restraining order barring the publication of the bill by the secretary of state, thought to be a necessary step for the bill to become law.
At the same time, public employee unions scrambled to rush through favorable wage and benefits contracts while the law was presumed crippled. The restraining order was immediately appealed to the Court of Appeals, which dodged the controversy by kicking the matter up to the Supreme Court. The importance of electing David Prosser to the Supreme Court is now readily apparent.
Last Friday, the Legislative Reference Bureau published the law on its website, complying with the state's publication requirement, and the state of Wisconsin officially began recognizing the budget repair bill as law. The bill narrows the focus of public employee contract negotiations to cost-of-living pay increases, prevents unions from collecting dues through state payroll deductions, and prevents unions from requiring union members who do not support Democrat candidates from paying dues which are used to support Democrat candidates.
Democrats once again shifted the focus of democracy from the legislature to the judiciary. On Tuesday, Judge Sumi -- whose husband donated to the campaigns of three of the 14 Democrats who had earlier fled the state -- ordered the state to put the law on hold and made clear that the law is now enjoined, once again thwarting the will of the voters and a legitimately passed law in Wisconsin. Sumi is set to hear additional arguments on the unions' spurious claim that GOP legislative leaders violated the state’s open meetings law during debate on the measure, and she also is considering Republican claims that the law technically took effect last weekend after a state agency unexpectedly published it online.
For anybody interested in a little digging and research, it quickly becomes obvious that the law was properly published and should be in effect. While Democrats argue that the reference bureau can’t publish a law without a date from the secretary of state, Republicans correctly point out that legislators are immune from such civil lawsuits, and the law is in effect. Nonetheless, Judge Sumi has improperly injected herself into the legislative process in favor of the Democrats whom she has supported.