Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas ruled on Friday that the law, curbing collective bargaining for most public employees, violates both the state and the US Constitution and infringes on free speech and association rights.
The judge’s ruling represents at least a temporary defeat for Governor Scott Walker, who promptly censured the decision on Friday but further expressed confidence that his state would launch an appeal against it.
“The people of Wisconsin clearly spoke on June 5,” said Walker. “Now, 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. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process.”
The state law struck down by the Wisconsin judge was at the core of Walker’s legislative agenda following his 2010 election victory and its passage triggered a chaotic political situation in the state throughout most of 2011 and 2012.
The bill included a provision curbing collective bargaining for most public employees. It was passed, and Walker subsequently signed it into law over angry protest rallies by labor activists who stormed the state capital in early 2011.
The Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees celebrated the ruling and tried to portray it as an obvious reprimand to the Republican governor.
“Today, Governor Scott Walker was rejected by the courts again,” said AFSCME Council 48 Executive Director Rich Abelson. “Today’s ruling shows that his attempt to steal the rights away from working men and women in Wisconsin was unconstitutional. We have always believed that Governor Walker and the state legislature overstepped their authority by taking away the rights of public employees to collectively bargain.”