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State Supreme Court upholds Act 10; rules in favor of Voter ID and same-sex registry


MADISON, Wis (WSAU - Wheeler News)  Wisconsin public school and local government employees were dealt a blow this morning by the State Supreme Court.  On a 5-to-2 vote the justices threw out previous rulings from Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas -- who said that the Act-10 public union bargaining limits did not apply to local and school unions.  It was among several lawsuits which challenged the constitutionality of Act-10, Governor Scott Walker's signature legislation from 2011 which banned collective bargaining except for pay raises at-or-above inflation.  

Justice Michael Gableman wrote the lead opinion, which was also signed by Justices David Prosser, Pat Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. Justice Patrick Crooks concurred but wrote a separate opinion. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh-Bradley dissented.

The majority opinion says, in part, "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."

Today's ruling was the final one pending in the state and federal courts -- and Republicans won them all.  They can now claim full victory over preserving Act-10, as Walker and most G-O-P lawmakers run for re-election this fall.  

After massive protests in 2011, Walker was put up for recall the following year over Act-10 -- and he became the first governor in U-S history to survive such an effort.  Today's ruling could also put a feather in Walker's cap nationally, where conservatives regard him as a hero for taking on public unions.  Therefore, today's ruling could be a boost to Walker's possible presidential bid for 2016.   

Democratic challenger Mary Burke recently said she would try to restore many of the bargaining aspects of Act-10, while leaving the higher employee health and retirement contribution requirements in place.

In separate cases, the state's highest court also upheld Wisconsin's voter ID law and the state's same-sex domestic partner registry. Both of those issues have separate cases pending in federal court which could surpass today's rulings.