In the latest dramatic twist for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's controversial union-busting law, a judge has declared key provisions of the legislation unconstitutional. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas says the restrictions on collective bargaining rights championed by Walker, who easily survived a recall election in June, violated local government and school workers' rights to free speech, association, and equal protection. The state plans to appeal, but faces strong headwinds. State and federal courts have delivered a series of defeats to central parts of the Republican agenda implemented after the party's sweeping victories in federal and state elections in November 2010. Critics say the newly empowered, GOP-led state legislatures went too far — with voter ID laws, immigration laws, redistricting laws, and efforts to curtail public workers' collective bargaining rights — but Walker says a "liberal activist judge" is just trying to thwart the will of the electorate. Did Republicans overreach in Wisconsin, or did Judge Colas?
Liberal judges — there they go again: Even Colas admits "there's no constitutional right to collective bargaining," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. He's arguing that the state discriminated against union workers, but his legal reasoning is flimsy. No matter — "the point of the ruling is to snatch victory on collective bargaining for the Left from the jaws of defeat after defeat after defeat." It has worked before with abortion rights and countless other issues. "Long live rule by the judiciary!"
"Wisconsin judge strikes down Walker's collective-bargaining law"
Conservative judges are the real activists: Colas' ruling was perfectly reasonable, says David Dayen at Firedoglake, particularly his opinion that the GOP-run state legislature was trampling the rights of local governments to set policies for their own workers. Walker doesn't need to worry, though. The state's right-wing Supreme Court, "one of the most partisan" in the nation, has already reversed, in a "brazen," party-line vote, one judge who overturned the anti-union law. Why not two?
"Ruling overturning parts of Wisconsin anti-union law likely to be short-lived"
Either way, this debate is here to stay: Walker certainly won't be the only Republican to accuse Colas of trying to overrule the will of the people, says Sean Sullivan at The Washington Post. His tactic is an increasingly popular way for politicians to discredit judges who disagree with them. Remember how President Obama "warned the 'unelected' Supreme Court against striking down his health-care reform law"? It looks like we're in for a new, national "debate over the influence of partisanship on the legal system."
"What the Wisconsin collective bargaining ruling means"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How I lost all my money
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- George W. Bush 'ran the country like a cable network,' and other political insights from Chris Rock
- How Wall Street is chipping away at reform
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- A brief history of the Christmas present
Subscribe to the Week