Wednesday, June 15, 2011

JUDGE vs JUDGE IN WISCONSIN

"I hope this makes Jon Stewart cry."

Sumi-Umbridge
The battle for Wisconsin keeps going. Another serious loss for the left's rabid hordes was dealt today, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court judicially slapped Judge Umbridge Sumi upside the head like Special Agent Gibbs would, and negated her weird decision.

To sum up: the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill to save the state by cutting back on some collective bargaining power of the state's public employee unions and required them to pay something into their benefits. The governor signed it into bill, and the unions ran to the courts to stop the law from being "published" (officially made part of Wisconsin law).

The bill was passed in a special session to prevent the Democrat legislators from blocking its passage by cowardly hiding in another state (in a casino, paid for by the SEIU). Judge Sumi admitted it was a special session. Then she ruled that, since ordinary legislative activity requires 24 hours notice before passage, it was unconstitutional and could not be published as law.

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin said this (courtesy Instapundit and hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ):
"One of the courts that we are charged with supervising has usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature.”
Courts tend to be very gentle with their reproofs, preferring not to name names. What they meant was "Judge Sumi violated her job like hillbillies on Ned Beatty and should be looked into for impeachment." The court ruled ab initio which basically means "we're rolling back to before the lesser court ruled and negating her ability to do it again."

That's the summary of what happened. Now, something the justices said in the decision really grabbed my attention:
There is no such thing known to the law as an unconstitutional bill. A court cannot deal with the question of constitutionality until a law has been duly enacted and some person has been deprived of his constitutional rights by its operation.
Now, technically, this is how courts work: they are passive, they cannot go out and find trouble, they have to sit in a robe and wait until someone lodges a valid complaint. No matter how bad a law is, a court cannot go out and rule on it without a plaintiff bring it properly to their official attention.

And when it comes to the way the court system works, a bill cannot be declared unconstitutional because it cannot have caused harm to someone. Until a bill becomes law, it has no power, and hence cannot apply any damage to anyone. And unless someone has a valid personal complaint of damages, they cannot bring a court case.

However, the decision here gives the impression that there is no such thing as an unconstitutional bill, which is not true at all. Any bill that violates the constitution is unconstitutional on the face of it; legislation that would require all Americans to bow down to a statue of the president and worship it would be unconstitutional even if it never got a single vote.

The entire hope of any rational person was that the McCain Feingold campaign finance law would be vetoed by President Bush simply because it was unconstitutional. He didn't, noting that this was for courts to decide, which is patently false and stupid. Later, the Supreme Court decided that silencing opinion on political candidates did not somehow violate the 1st amendment. That law was unconstitutional before it was signed, it was just a bill.

In any case, the last hope of the union leftist brigade in Wisconsin to stop this bill collapsed with the Supreme Court decision, and the bill is now law. So far the union is like 1 and 8 in skirmishes, despite being violent, disruptive, insulting, and extremist. When the recall votes come through we'll see how well they do. Usually, doing the right thing doesn't matter nearly as much to a politician as keeping their job. If a bunch of legislators are recalled over this, the rest will cave, or at least enough that Governor Walker's attempts to save the state will fail.

1 comment:

Philip said...

Just a quibble: The "there is no such thing known to the law as an unconstitutional bill" is a decision in reference to the Wisconsin constitution.

I'm not up on all the state constitutions, but it's quite possible that there are states where a bill would be 'unconstitutional'.

There may also be bills in state legislatures which would be in conflict with the US constitution. But that's for the courts to decide.