June 1, 2011
In presuming to overturn Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi willfully ignored things known to anybody with a television set during February and March.
The most laughable statement in Sumi’s contemptible ruling may be that a conference committee acted on the bill “on less than two hours’ notice in a location that was not open and accessible to citizens.”
We suspect those thousands of people swarming through the Capitol at the time were mostly citizens.
Sumi sanctimoniously quoted the state constitution saying “the doors of each house shall remain open, except when the public welfare requires secrecy.”
No secrecy was involved. Everybody knew exactly what was happening. Doors to the legislative chambers were closed because the alternative would have been to let a screaming mob invade the proceedings, threatening public safety. The same mob that set Wisconsin taxpayers back $8 million in law enforcement costs.
The state Supreme Court may smack Sumi down, but an alternative would be for the Legislature to pass the law again, as part of the pending budget bill. Majority Republicans understandably hesitate to pursue that option because it virtually guarantees the mob’s return.
But that illuminates the jaw-dropping question raised by Sumi’s decision: Is a county judge saying a lawfully elected government can’t do what’s necessary to conduct its business, but rather is obligated to defer to mob rule?
Few voters would miss that point the second time around. Republicans dread going through it again. Having taken sides with the mob, Democrats ought to dread it more.