As we noted late last Friday, as the news was just breaking, a WI judge has overturned Republican Gov. Scott Walker's controversial anti-union law which had taken away most collective bargaining rights from most citizens who are employed as public workers in the state. In his ruling, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas found the law to be in violation of both the state and U.S. Constitution and is, barring overturn by appeal at the state Supreme Court, now "null and void."
As is expected in such cases by now, rather than critiquing the ruling itself, Walker immediately attempted to smear the Dane County Judge who issued it as a "liberal activist judge." Nothing new there. When Republicans don't have their way in court, it's always due to "liberal activist judges," even when the courts are not quite activist enough for their tastes in other instances (see their fury after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn "ObamaCare," for instance).
But there was another interesting response to the ruling from Walker and his fellow partisans following the ruling on Friday, which seems to suggest they haven't a clue about how the court system works, how the U.S. Constitution is supposed to work, or even how representative democracy works. Either that, or they simply don't care and feel it's just more important to continue scamming their gullible constituencies then it is to be honest about what actually happened on Friday.
Making matters worse though, not only are they wrong about matters of how democracy and the court system works, they are also wrong on their facts as well, even if they hope nobody will notice...
"The people of Wisconsin clearly spoke on June 5th," Walker said at the top of his response to the ruling on Friday. "Now, they are ready to move on. Sadly, a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backward and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the Legislature and the governor."
In a similar vein, Republican state Rep. Robin Vos (who, though his own wife appears to have committed voter fraud three times this year, is, nonetheless, a huge proponent of the state GOP's disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions which were found in violation of the state Constitution by several WI courts so far this year) also responded by suggesting that voters --- as opposed to courts of law --- get to decide which laws are Constitutional and which are not.
"A judge living in the fantasy world of Dane County has decided they are going to substitute their singular opinion as opposed to the collective will of Wisconsin, through the Legislature and the recall process," Vos is quoted in Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel as saying on Friday. "We have litigated, reviewed and elected people because of Act 10 [the Republican law which strips most collectively bargaining rights]. In each case, they say the law works. And it is," he said.
Of course, neither how "the people of Wisconsin...spoke on June 5th", as Walker argued, nor anything about the "recall process" or "collective will of Wisconsin" as the hypocritical Vos suggested, or even whether or not "the law works," have anything to do with whether it is legal under the state and U.S. Constitution.
Nonetheless, as expected, their partisan surrogates in the media have parroted the same disingenuous line.
"The list of people who support Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's law limiting the ability of public-sector unions to collectively bargain is fairly long," writes partisan Christian Schneider at the National Review Online, as well as at the Journal-Sentinel today. "It includes the governor himself, the legislature, the state supreme court, and the voters of the state, who on June 5 reelected Walker by a larger margin than he had garnered in 2010 against the same opponent."
"Yet," Schneider adds deceptively, "the law was gutted on Friday by Dane County circuit court judge Juan Colas, who took it upon himself to save the citizens of Wisconsin from a law that they overwhelmingly support."
Setting aside whether Walker's June 5th recall election, spurred by enormous state-wide opposition to this law specifically, was larger or not than his reported victory in 2010 (we simply do not know one way or another, as we detailed on Election Night, and as bi-partisan groups across the state are still attempting to verify one way or another) and setting aside whether this law, or the judge's decision was a good one or a bad one, or whether it will hold up on appeal, the argument that Walker's supposed victory on June 5th has anything to do with whether or not the law is or isn't Constitutional is completely specious.
The Constitutionality of laws is not determined at the ballot box. In fact, the U.S. Constitution, at least, is specifically designed in order to help protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority. What is it that these Republicans don't understand about that?
Moreover, if we are to judge the Constitutionality of the law based on who won or lost at the ballot box, then it appears Walker and Vos and Schneider all seem to have forgotten one huge point: The State Senate which passed the bill originally was dominated by Republicans at the time. After several rounds of recall elections since then, in response to their actions, Republicans were tossed out in order to allow Democrats who opposed the bill to take control of the State Senate.
So, if we are to judge whether Act 10 is Constitutional based on a verdict at the ballot box --- instead of in a court of law, where such things are actually decided --- isn't it as fair to say that the people of the state have clearly rejected the law because they threw its supporters out of the State Senate and replaced them with a Democratic majority?
For some reason, the partisan Republican supporters of the anti-union law who believe that Walker's supposed win on June 5th means the law is Constitutional, have conveniently forgotten that they also ended up losing control of the entire State Senate because of it. So, their argument that the people support the bill, as evidenced by election results, is not only specious, it also factually inaccurate at best, and debatable at worst. At least to honest folks.
But let's not let facts --- and the way government and the rule of law and the court system actually work --- get in the way of Republican activist partisans.
P.S. In additional response to Schneider, whose disingenuous NRO/Journal-Sentinel screed claimed that "the list of people who support Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's law limiting the ability of public-sector unions to collectively bargain...includes...the state supreme court," it should be noted that the partisan Republican-majority court, did not rule on the substance of the law itself. While they hastily re-instated the law in June of 2011 after it had previously been blocked by a lower court on procedural grounds, based on legal questions about how it was passed, the Supreme Court did not rule on the Constitutionality of the law itself at the time, only that the methods used to jam it through the State Senate against the wishes of Democrats was, as they found, correctly or otherwise, in accordance with state law.
While WI's state Supreme Court is still sharply partisan and may end up overturning Judge Colas' Friday ruling, it's dishonest and deceptive to report that they have somehow ruled on the substance of the law itself, to date. They haven't. But, again, while smart partisan activists like Schneider surely know that, clearly they don't care enough to be honest with their readers and followers about it.