Act 10 Upheld

[Madison, Wisc…] On Friday, the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold Act 10, which had partly been overturned by a US District Judge in March.

A lawsuit filed by seven labor unions in Wisconsin against Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans claimed the law violated workers constitutional rights by requiring annual recertification votes and not allowing the state to withhold union dues from workers’ paychecks.

In upholding the law, the court explained in its decision, “The Unions offer several different First Amendment theories to rebut the compelling deference of rational basis review required under applicable law. Ultimately, none apply because the Supreme Court has settled the question: use of the state’s payroll systems to collect union dues is a state subsidy of speech that requires only viewpoint neutrality.”

The court also gave a detailed explanation of what, exactly constitutes a “right.”

“The Bill of Rights enshrines negative liberties. It directs what government may not do to its citizens, rather than what it must do for them,” the decision reads. “While the First Amendment prohibits ‘placing obstacles in the path’ of speech, nothing requires government to ‘assist others in funding the expression of particular ideas, including political ones,’ (noting that Constitution ‘does not confer an entitlement to such funds as may be necessary to realize all the advantages of’ a constitutional right).”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos reacted to the decision Friday afternoon, “Today’s federal court ruling confirms what we’ve known all along: Act 10 is constitutional. What we’ve seen in this case–and with so many others before it–is that a liberal Dane County judge made a political, not a legal, decision.”

Governor Walker said in a press release, “Today’s court ruling is a victory for Wisconsin taxpayers. The provisions contained in Act 10, which have been upheld in federal court, were vital in balancing Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes, without massive public employee layoffs, and without cuts to programs like Medicaid. With this ruling behind us, we can now focus on the next state budget, which will invest in priorities to move our state forward.”

The entire decision can be read here.