MADISON — Spontaneous celebrations by teachers at the Capitol in Madison Friday night began shortly after Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled Act 10 unconstitutional.
On Saturday, the impact of that ruling was what many were talking about, including Lester Pines, who represents the Madison Teachers, plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“The law violates the right of association guaranteed by the constitution,” Pines said. “It violates the right of free speech and it violates equal protection.”
He adds that this will have an immediate impact on unions.
“Unions that are certified, even though they don’t have contracts, they are now under the terms of this ruling back where they were before the law was passed.”
Colas’s decision says certain rights can’t be restrained by laws. Part of his 27 page ruling states: “When the government elects to permit collective bargaining it may not make the surrender or restriction of a constitutional right a condition of that privilege.”
Nick Padway, who represents the Milwaukee union agrees.
“We cannot, through a legislative process which is what Governor Walker and the legislature attempted to do, is go back on our word to our people.”
However, Governor Scott Walker disagrees, blaming partisan politics for the judge’s ruling.
“Sadly a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the law making responsibilities of the legislature and the Governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeal.”
But Pines does not think that is a valid argument.
“If the judge was politically biased, why did he rule in favor of the state in part of this case?” Pines responded.
Now, for municipal unions conditions go back to the way they were before Act 10 went into effect according to John Matthews of Madison Teachers Inc.
“The contract exists as it was in January 2011.” Matthews said. “So the district has some major modifications to make.”
Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen issued a statement Saturday as well.
“We believe that Act 10 is constitutional in all aspects and will be appealing this decision. 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.”
Despite the appeal and the stays, Pines remains optimistic about Colas’s ruling.
“We’re confident that this law is unconstitutional and will remain unconstitutional.”