This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to the Journal Sentinel, June 15, 2011
Madison - One day after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of collective-bargaining legislation that potentially affects thousands of public-sector employees, a coalition of unions filed suit in federal court seeking to block it.
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO on Wednesday joined a number of other unions seeking to halt Gov. Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining legislation.
The groups include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 24, AFSCME Council 40, AFSCME Council 48, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the Wisconsin State Employees Union, The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union – Health Care Wisconsin (SEIU).
In a statement, the groups said they filed the suit because the collective-bargaining legislation "denies hundreds of thousands of public employees their right to collectively bargain for a better life. The groups challenge the constitutionality of the state’s Budget Repair Bill which would destroy collective bargaining rights for all but a select group of public sector workers."
The suit, filed in the Western District of Wisconsin, says the legislation violates the 1st and 14th amendments "by stripping away basic rights to bargain, organize and associate for the purpose of engaging in union activity, which have been in place for the last half century."
The unions charge that the collective bargaining legislation violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating among classes of public employees. That's an apparent reference to fire and police officers, who were exempted from the legislation.
Walker, the unions charged, tried to "eliminate or reduce to a shell" the existing rights of state and municipal employees "while maintaining the robust bargaining rights of a favored class consisting of those employees falling within a newly-created category deemed 'public safety' employees."
Teachers and State workers vs. The Constitution
US Constitution, Amendment 1
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
US Constitution, Amendment 14 (pertinent paragraphs)
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
We the People:
In regard to the first amendment, the employees can still ask for the free healthcare insurance. They seem to confuse that right to speak with the right of the employer to ignore.
In regard to the fourteenth amendment, if they are claiming that due process was not followed, what is their basis? None of the following measures listed on usconstitution.net were abridged:
* Right to a fair and public trial conducted in a competent manner
* Right to be present at the trial
* Right to an impartial jury
* Right to be heard in one's own defense
* Laws must be written so that a reasonable person can understand what is criminal behavior
* Taxes may only be taken for public purposes
* Property may be taken by the government only for public purposes
* Owners of taken property must be fairly compensated
The plaintiffs mention a favored class (apparently in reference to the first paragraph of the fourteenth amendment) and thereby claim that the new law is not equally applied. The very creation of this privilege for them many years ago with the force of law was probably unconstitutional since it was not equally applied to all Wisconsin citizens.
You can see the words of those amendments. Since AFT and WEAC joined this dubious lawsuit, do you think their members know the Constitution well enough to teach it to our children?