Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law was struck down late on the night of Friday, Sept. 14. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of the law, but already a firestorm of debate and controversy has taken place.
The most recent action in the unending battle between Walker and the unions is the governor’s request that his supporters begin signing petitions. The purpose of these petitions is to raise support and finances for the collective bargaining law.
In response, an activist group known as One Wisconsin Now has started its own petition initiative to match Walker’s fundraising efforts. The organization asks signers to “Stand with the Constitution,” referring to the ruling made by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas, who believed Walker’s law violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Walker’s petitions represent an attempt to undermine the authority of the judiciary. With so much public attention being devoted to a single emotionally charged issue, it will be difficult for justices to give an unbiased ruling. In order to make impartial decisions, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices need to remain focused on the constitutionality of the law – not which side has more support.
Walker has made a strategic effort to undermine the credibility of Colas’ ruling – his petition calls Colas an “activist judge.” Colas, who was appointed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, has been portrayed as the liberal judge of Dane County.
Colas’ detractors forget the judiciary has an obligation to rule on the constitutionality of laws. By labeling a judge a biased “activist” and suggesting his ruling should not matter, Walker has insulted our government process. The judiciary is one of the most intriguing parts of our government. It is often disregarded as powerless because it neither creates nor executes laws, but it is endowed with the awesome power of giving the last word in the most controversial of debates. Right now, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to put an end to two years of political insanity.
Walker and One Wisconsin Now are attempting to harness support for a preferred court ruling through the use of frivolous petitions. This effort to interfere with Supreme Court proceedings will surely come back to haunt us. We in Wisconsin are tired of the confusing and controversial way in which this debate has been handled. After the protests, the first Supreme Court decision and the recall, it is time to put these underhanded political tactics away for a while. The judicial process needs to be observed at a respectful distance.
Walker and his opponents must allow both sides to make their arguments and let the judges make their decisions. Supreme Court proceedings should include as little outside political interference as possible.
Jared Mehre ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and sociology with a certificate in criminal justice.