What now, people?
The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Gov. Scott Walker's signature labor legislation Thursday,delivering an election-year affirmation to the governor in one of the three major rulings issued by the justices on union bargaining, election law and same-sex couples.I assume that includes the wailing and gnashing of teeth...
In addition to ruling Walker's labor law constitutional, the state's highest court also upheld the state's voter ID law and a 2009 law providing limited benefits to gay and lesbian couples, leaving liberals with one consolation to soften the sting of the two larger conservative victories.
The decision was 5-2, with Justice Michael Gableman writing the lead opinion, which found that collective bargaining over a contract with an employer is not a fundamental right for public employees under the constitution. Instead, it's a benefit that lawmakers can extend or restrict as they see fit, he said.
"No matter the limitations or 'burdens' a legislative enactment places on the collective bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation. The First Amendment cannot be used as a vehicle to expand the parameters of a benefit that it does not itself protect," Gableman wrote.
Rejecting arguments made by the Madison teachers union and Public Employees Local 61, a group of city of Milwaukee employees, Gableman said that public employees still had the right to form unions to influence their employers, but government officials aren't obligated to listen to them.
"The plaintiffs remain free to advance any position, on any topic, either individually or in concert, through any channels that are open to the public," Gableman wrote.