Saturday, March 31, 2012
Wisconsin's controversial Act 10 has been declared unconstitutional in part by federal district judge William Conley in a summary judgment opinion in Wisconsin Education Association Council v. Walker.
Judge Conley ruled against the plaintiffs' equal protection challenge to Act 10's classification between emergency public employees and "general" public employees. However, Judge Conley held that Act 10's requirement of annual recertification of general employees unions violated equal protection guarentees and Act 10's prohibition of dues withholding for general employees violated the first amendment.
In considering the dues witholding provision, Judge Conley noted that
Act 10 was enacted in the maelstrom of a political sea change in Wisconsin, the Act itself being the principal lightening rod around which the tumult reached its heights, at least to date. Whether or not the prohibition on automatic dues deductions for most public unions, but not those who supported the new Governor and Legislature, was an intentional act to suppress the speech of those who opposed then, it has that appearance.
The "maelstrom" to which Judge Conley referred is ongoing. The state Government Accountability Board has just unanimously ordered a recall election for Governor Scott Walker (pictured above) who spearheaded Act 10. Earlier this month, a state judge held Wisconsin's voter identification law unconstitutional under the state constitution, a ruling that is being appealed to Wisconsin's troubled Supreme Court.
Judge Conley's order required "a return to automatic dues deductions for all members of public unions no later than May 31, 2012," in order to "give sufficient time for the defendants to seek a stay of this injunction from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and for government entities to adopt a workable procedure to return to automatic deductions should the Seventh Circuit deny a stay, while balancing the plaintiffs’ and their now-voluntary members’ rights to a return to payroll deductions."
[image: Scott Walker via]