As expected following Justice David Prosser's narrow reelection, Wisconsin's highest court has decided in favor of Governor Walker's union-reform bill:
Tuesday's opinion, signed by three of the Supreme Court's seven justices, said the circuit-court judge, Maryann Sumi, exceeded her authority. The justices wrote, "One of the courts that we are charged with supervising has usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature."
The union bosses' last, best hope was the ruling of a leftist appeals judge who tried to camouflage her decision with an inapplicable technicality:
The senate chief clerk, a nonpartisan official who advises the senate on parliamentary and legal issues, advised the senate majority leader that no notice was required to be given for the March 9 meeting other than a bulletin board posting because the senate was in special session. The open meetings law does not apply to special sessions, under which the legislature was convened on March 9.
Union leaders blasted the court's decision. Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, called it "an affront to our democracy."
An affront to whose democracy? The Wisconsin voters who elected Republican representatives, Republican senators, and a Republican governor? Or the slim percentage of Wisconsin voters dependent on union influence for their unsustainable pay and benefits?
Let's not forget the environment in which Republicans passed Walker's reform bill: the unions took over Wisconsin's capital while elected Democrats fled the state. Despite the highly-organized commotion, limiting the power of public unions and requiring public employees to pay a minimum portion of their pension & health insurance costs never matched union rhetoric. But then, reality tends not to match union rhetoric as a rule.
The Associated Press version of the story includes a line that could compete for Understatement of the Year -
Democrats saw it as an attack on public employee unions, which usually back their party's candidates.
Senate Bill 5 is framed the same way by the Ohio Democratic Party, occasional backers of the public unions who give Democrats millions each election cycle. Nonetheless, I'm optimistic that Ohio taxpayers will see a similar victory in November, giving the public a little say in how public workers are managed.
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