Friday, March 18, 2011


I don't know who really wins as a result of this, in Wisconsin:

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order Friday, barring the publication of a controversial new law that would sharply curtail collective bargaining for public employees.

Sumi’s order will prevent Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law until she can rule on the merits of the case. Dane County Ismael Ozanne is seeking to block the law because he says a legislative committee violated the state's open meetings law....

"It seems to me the public policy behind effective enforcement of the open meeting law is so strong that it does outweigh the interest, at least at this time, which may exist in favor of sustaining the validity of the (law)," she said....

As Steve Benen notes,

... the ruling is based on procedural concerns -- Republicans were supposed to jump through certain hoops in order to pass the legislation properly. Apparently, they didn't.

But they still can. If the legal process plays out, and the courts all agree that GOP officials violated Wisconsin's open meetings law, Republicans will very likely start over, jump through the right procedural hoops, and simply do all of this again.

Of course, if/when that happens, will we also see a replay of the protests and quorum avoidance from Democrats, workers, and their allies? That seems fairly likely.

But the point is that the bill was altered so (at least according to the Republicans) it didn't need that quorum. Unless that assertion is overturned by the courts, the Republicans can rubber-stamp the bill even if Democrats leave town again. And if a quorum is necessary, who's to say the GOP wouldn't use law enforcement to physically prevent the Dems from skipping town?

Protests? Republicans clearly don't give a crap how many people protest.

The only risk for Republicans, it seems to me, is the recall threat. What if Democrats get three GOP senators recalled before this goes to a revote (assuming the courts rule that it must)?

Well, the possibility that that will be the sequence of events is likely to motivate both parties -- nationwide. I keep saying I don't believe Democrats have as much momentum as they seem to have regarding the recall; I really expect the GOP and the right to start deploying the big guns soon. This court decision guarantees that, doesn't it? This is going to be a hell of a motivator for every wingnut in America, right?

Which means that now we'll see which side really has the public in its corner, and which side really has the muscle to win an ugly fight. As someone who's lived through the past thirty years, I always worry that the right will dominate every full-tilt battle of this kind. I'm worried now. I hope I'm worried without reason.

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