Dane County Court Judge Juan B. Colas suspended the law on the basis that it violates both the state and federal freedom of speech and freedom of association guarantees, as well as the equal protection clause.
Colas recognized the U.S. Constitution gives no rights to collective bargaining and the law does not prohibit speech or association directly, but still found there are “burdensome restrictions” to those who join a public sector union.
“Although the statutes do not prohibit speech or associational activities, the statutes do impose burdens on employees’ exercise of those rights when they do so for the purpose of recognition of their association as an exclusive bargaining agent,” Colas said in his decision.
He gave an example of this by saying union members can only negotiate for wage increases that are equal to or less than the cost of living increases, while other employees are “rewarded” by being able to negotiate raises “without limitation.”
According to a statement released Saturday, the Department of Justice will appeal the decision.
“We believe that Act 10 is constitutional in all respects and will be appealing this decision,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in the statement. “We also will be seeking a stay of Friday’s decision pending appeal in order to allow the law to continue in effect as it has for more than a year while the appellate courts address the legal issues.”
Walker released a statement after the ruling and said Wisconsinites “clearly spoke” when they voted for him to stay in office during the recall election, and they are ready to “move on.”
“Sadly, a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor,” Walker said in the statement.
Walker said his administration was “confident” Colas’s decision would be overturned during the appeals process.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, called Colas another “University of Wisconsin-educated Dane County judge” trying to stop the law.
“[The decision] is disappointing but not surprising,” Grothman said in an interview with The Badger Herald. “These judges will do anything to force local school board, county boards or city councils to pay all of their employees’ pension and health insurance benefits, as well as make sure school districts have to hold on to the worst teachers.”
Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, said he was pleased with the invalidation of Act 10 and said it was simply an effort to take away collective bargaining rights and was not necessary to balance the state’s budget.
As the appeal will likely reach the Wisconsin Supreme Court eventually, Cullen hoped they would uphold Friday’s ruling, but did not want to “prejudge” a future decision.
“We are aware of the philosophical leanings of the court, but you never know about judges, and we should never know what judges are going to decide on anything,” he said.