By State Representative, Leon D. Young
It was an exceedingly bad week for the people of Wisconsin last week. Regrettably, the state Supreme Court rendered two important decisions that will adversely impact the majority of our residents for many years to come.
In two legal challenges to existing state laws, ramrodded through the state Legislature at Governor Scott Walker’s behest, Wisconsin’s highest court upheld the voter ID requirement and Act 10 as constitutional.
It should be noted that the divided state court did tweak a provision of the voter ID law to put it in keeping with the state constitution.
Consequently, state residents will not have to pay a fee in order to obtain a state-issued identification card.
Even after the recent capitulation by the state’s high court, Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement is no closer to being resolved.
The measure that calls for residents to show photo identification at the polls remains blocked because a federal judge in April found Wisconsin’s voter ID law violates the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.
The court’s decision that affirmed the legality of Act 10 was equally disappointing.
In a 5-2 decision, with Justice Michael Gableman writing the lead opinion, the majority held that collective bargaining over a contract with an employer is not a fundamental right for public employees under the state constitution.
Justice Gableman was joined by Justices David Prosser, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. Justice N. Patrick Crooks concurred, writing that as policy Act 10 was a mistake by Republicans, but one allowed under the constitution.
Make no mistake about it; the timing of the court’s decision has clear political overtones, coming out just as this year’s midterm elections are heating up.
Counting on these rulings to bolster his election chances in November; Walker called this particular decision “a move on point” for the state.
According to Walker, state and local governments had saved some $3 billion from Act 10, which ushered in cuts benefits for public employees and changes to their insurance carriers, overtime rules and other cost-cutting moves.
Our state has long prided itself in its “progressive tradition,” but these rulings are a clear stride in the wrong direction.
For the last four years, poor and working-class families have been repeatedly devastated by the callousness of the Republican majority.
Now the state Supreme Court is conveniently following suit, rendering draconian decisions by way of a kangaroo court.