Wisconsin Democrats hoping their state Supreme Court would help roll back some of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) agenda suffered some important defeats this morning.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Gov. Scott Walker’s signature labor legislation Thursday, delivering an election-year affirmation to the governor in just one of the three major rulings issued by the court on union bargaining, election law and same-sex couples. […]The decision was 5-2, with Justice Michael Gableman writing the lead opinion, which found that collective bargaining is not a fundamental right under the constitution but rather a benefit that lawmakers can extend or restrict as they see fit.
At issue, of course, was the 2011 incident in which Walker and his Republican legislative allies eliminated collective-bargaining rights for most state employees, most notably public school teachers. The governor later described the policy, which Walker neglected to mention to voters as a candidate, as an effort to “divide and conquer” his opponents in Wisconsin unions.
There’s ample evidence that the policy had the intended effect, dramatically undermining union membership.
But that’s not all the Wisconsin Supreme Court did today – it also upheld Republican efforts to suppress voting participation through an unnecessary voter-ID law.
As msnbc’s Meredith Clark reported, “The court ruled 4-3 on Thursday that the ID law is constitutional, though it found that the state cannot require people to pay any fees to acquire state-issued identification.”
Unlike the union-busting measure, however, the voter-ID controversy is not yet fully resolved – federal courts are considering a related challenge, and the outcome will trump the state court decision.
[Update: Rick Hasen notes that the “only evidence of voter fraud cited” in today’s ruling Involves a Scott Walker supporter who committing fraud that the voter-ID law “would not prevent.”
And in case that weren’t quite enough, the Wisconsin Supreme Court also tackled gay rights: “When Wisconsin passed its amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006, it also prohibited the recognition of any ‘legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage.’ The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state’s 2009 same-sex domestic partner law is constitutional and does not conflict with the marriage amendment.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported some helpful background on this case the other day.