Wisconsin is a busy place these days. Over the weekend approximately 60,000 protesters turned out to mark the one year anniversary of the passage of the now infamous union-busting bill. Here’s a great overview and photos from the event.
On Monday the Government Accountability Board (GAB), the non-partisan agency that oversees elections in Wisconsin, approved recall elections against four sitting Republican state senators and came closer to setting a proposed date for holding those election recalls.
Assuming all moves as requested by the GAB primaries for the recall elections will be held on May 8th with the general election on June 5th.
Meanwhile, a second judge in a week blocked the state’s voter ID law in a stern ruling that should have proponents of these disenfranchisement bills reconsidering their support. Dane County Judge Richard Niess permanently enjoined the bill. “A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people,” said the eight-page opinion by Judge Niess. “It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution. This is precisely what 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 does with its photo ID mandates.”
Judge Niess’ ruling goes further than the order issued last week by Dane County Judge David Flanagan that blocked the law for the April 3 presidential primary and local elections, but not beyond that.
This order makes it harder for the state to put the voter ID law into effect fore the April 3 election because now it has to win two appeals in less than four weeks. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has already asked for a stay of the earlier order and is expected to appeal both rulings.
Monday’s decision came after a challenge to the voter ID law was brought by the League of Women Voters.
Judge Niess took on claims of judicial activism straight away in his ruling, making it clear that the Wisconsin Constitution permitted no other ruling. “Because the Wisconsin Constitution is the people’s bulwark against government overreach, courts must reject every opportunity to contort its language into implicitly providing what it explicitly does not: license to enact laws that, for any citizen, cancel or substantially burden a constitutionally guaranteed sacred right, such as the right to vote,” he wrote. “Otherwise we stray into judicial activism at its most insidious. Our constitution is a line in the sand drawn by the sovereign authority in this state – the people of Wisconsin – that the Legislature, governor, and the courts may not cross, particularly under the all-too-convenient guise of strained construction and attenuated inference.”
In addition to these challenges there are two challenges to the law pending in federal court in Milwaukee. One was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the other was brought by the League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and others.
All in all this is a good news day for Wisconsin. And as we’ve seen over the course of the past year, in many ways Wisconsin is at the front of a national movement against the policies of the hard-right so success there bodes well for successes in other states.
Photo from WxMom via flickr.