Walker, Wisconsin Ranger (Strikes Again)

It’s almost too beautiful to believe.

In this era of ever-expanding government power, of rising and risible rapacity in the federal Leviathan, can it really be the case that, on the state level, at least, significant victories for liberty are not only possible, but achieved and strengthened?

So it would seem, as the powerful government/union two-headed beast continues to reel from ferocious assault by bold governors in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

This last is perhaps most significant. Wisconsin, after all, was the birthplace of public-sector unionism in the United States; the powerful American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) can trace its origins back to the Badger State in 1932.

And yet, here Gov. Scott Walker successfully pushed a budget repair bill in 2011 in part designed to loosen the grip of public unions on the state’s purse strings, a grip that was driving up the cost of government to Wisconsin taxpayers.

And now a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court has given Walker’s reforms judicial imprimatur, rejecting complaints from seven public unions, including the Wisconsin Education Association Council, that Walker’s law violates the Equal Protection clause of the First Amendment. The editors of The Wall Street Journal summarize:

“The unions argued that Mr. Walker’s limits on collective bargaining, the requirements that a union be recertified each year by a majority of its members and the elimination of the payroll deduction of dues were illegal because they exempted cops and firefighters. Supposedly this amounts to discrimination by creating two categories of public employees. They also argued that the payroll deduction clause violates the First Amendment.”

Thankfully, the Seventh Circuit didn’t buy these arguments:

“The Equal Protection claims were first to go. The Seventh Circuit held that it was rational to fear a retaliatory strike from police and firemen that could endanger public safety, and thus the two-tier system protects a legitimate state interest.

As for the First Amendment, the court ruled that Wisconsin has no obligation to help unions fund political or other spending, in accord with a slew of Supreme Court and appeals court precedents.”

They say on the Internet Chuck Norris can do just about anything. But when it comes to putting important curbs on union power in one of the bluest, most union-friendly states in the nation, Gov. Walker seems able to give Chuck a run for his money.