WI Supreme Court Upholds Scott Walker’s Anti-Union Bill

John Murray/JohnMurrayPhoto.com

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Reversing an earlier decision by a county judge, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Republican Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union “budget repair” bill, which slashes collective bargaining rights for most public-sector unions. The unusually quick decision was 4 to 3; conservative justice David Prosser, who narrowly won reelection this spring after a series of controversial recounts, was among those who believed that Republican lawmakers had not violated the state’s open meetings act and supported reinstating Walker’s bill.

In their majority opinion, the four justices wrote:

Choices about what laws represent wise public policy for the state of Wisconsin are not within the constitutional purview of the courts. The court’s task in the action for original jurisdiction that we have granted 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.

That, of course, was a rebuke of Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi, who ruled last month that GOP lawmakers failed to give proper notice of a crucial meeting in which they voted to approve Walker’s anti-union bill. In a dissenting opinion, State chief justice Shirley Abrahamson, however, ripped the four justices who supported upholding Walker’s bill for having “reached a predetermined conclusion not based on the facts and the law, which undermines the majority’s ultimate decision.” The four justices, she went on, “make their own findings of fact, mischaracterize the parties’ arguments, misinterpret statutes, minimize (if not eliminate) Wisconsin constitutional guarantees, and misstate case law, appearing to silently overrule case law dating back to at least 1891.”

Walker’s bill will officially become law as soon as Secretary of State Doug La Follette publishes the bill, which has been caught in legal limbo for months as the court system debated whether lawmakers rushed the bill through the legislature without proper notice to the public.

State Republicans hailed the court’s decision. In a statement, Scott Walker said, “The Supreme Court’s ruling provides our state the opportunity to move forward together and focus on getting Wisconsin working again.” State Assembly speaker Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “We upheld the constitution all the way through the passage of Act 10. We feel great about the decision.”

Democrats reacted angrily to the ruling. “The majority of the Supreme Court is essentially saying that the legislature is above the law,” said state Rep. Peter Barca, the top Democrat in the Wisconsin Assembly, the legislature’s lower chamber. “It’s now clear that unless the constitution is amended the legislature is free to ignore any laws on the books.” Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said, “This will add fire to the movement to recall the Republican senators who stand by the runaway Scott Walker agenda…The decision itself was no surprise, given that this is a Supreme Court bought and paid for by the same corporate special interests that purchased elections for this governor and this Legislature.” He added, “The only surprise was that they did not install Scott Walker governor-for-life.”

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate