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Thursday, July 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 74.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily

CITIZEN DAVE

Citizen Dave: Act 10 in its second act may turn out to be a great play


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In addition to this almost daily blog, I write a monthly column for Isthmus that appears in the real newspaper. I usually like writing the column better than the blog. That's because I still feel like my words don't count for anything unless a tree gives its life to support them.

This month I wanted to write about why there should be a statue at Camp Randall in the likeness of reviled coach Don Morton, infamous for the exciting "veer" offence. Really, there should be, and wouldn't you like to read about that? Or I could have written about Kate Middleton's breasts. No, that doesn't have anything to do with local or state issues, which the editors want to feature in their paper, but heck, celebrity breasts are always good for increasing readership, even without pictures.

But noooo. The editors wanted something on Act 10 and "liberal activist" Dane County Judge Juan Colas' ruling that punishing somebody for being in a union might be sort of unfair.

I didn't want to write about this -- not because I thought he was wrong, or because I really thought he was a liberal or an activist, though I stipulate that he is, in fact, from Dane County, which for a lot of people is enough right there.

No, I didn't want to write about it because any story that ends in the Wisconsin Supreme Court is going to have an unhappy ending. It's a sure bet that after some preliminaries it'll land in the lowest high court in the land. They'll probably decide it in a mud-wrestling match. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is to the law what the replacement officials are to NFL rules. Not all of them, of course, but enough of them to make it embarrassing.

But then I did some research. I read the judge's ruling, I read some analysis. I talked with a couple of lawyers who are widely respected in town and very familiar with this and related cases.

I came away with the conclusion, which you can read here, that in the end, key parts of Act 10 might get struck down for good. Maybe by a federal court, maybe by a surprising state supreme court looking to reestablish its credibility as an independent branch of government and maybe, just maybe, by the United States Supreme Court.

The gist of it is that there are so many issues that have been raised on constitutional, statutory and procedural grounds under at least two legal theories that it seems likely to this non-lawyer that something here is going to stick. And when it sticks, it'll be up to a reluctant legislature to fix the defect. And I just don't see that happening. The legislature has been there, we've protested that and I don't think they want to see the replay.

So, take heart. We'll win some, we'll lose some but it's not over until the fat judge sings.

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