Don’t subordinate our courts and the Constitution

Often legislation is dull and boring. Or it seems so. The gobblygook that gets through Madison is ponderous and details the detail. We as business men and women don’t think it affects us.

But sometimes it does.

There is a bill now passed by the Assembly (AB 161) that is moving to the Senate (SB 154). The bill effectively eliminates the right of a trial judge to issue an injunction.

Injunctions are rare. Good judges from the right and left have issued injunctions to “prevent irreparable harm from a violation” of the State’s constitution.

There is no justification for this bill. Indeed the non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Council says that this law violates the State constitution because it infringes on the independence of the court system. The Council is the Legislature’s independent legal research center.

The supporters of this bill claim that they are speeding up the legal process. The real reason is that they are writing sloppy and unconstitutional laws and don’t want the interference of a judge. How inconvenient!

As business people we need to be concerned. When you have a government operated by crony types, you need a free press and an objective court to even the playing field.

And if you are one of the politicians looking at the demographics of the State and the recent statewide election of Obama and Baldwin, you know that power is shifting to the other side. That is why redistricting was so lopsided, why Voter ID was put in place and why voting hours are being limited. Indeed, this is one of the reasons- a primary one- for this bill. But soon the shoe will be on the other foot and the opposition will have learned well its lessons from the current power holders.

I contacted State Senator Alberta Darling to ask how she rationalized her sponsorship of this bill. No answer or response from her, which is not a surprise. But I am guessing that her response will be filled with the type of creativity and imagination she brings to all her public comments such as the “phone call” suggesting she get welfare benefits.

Politics without principle is a short term strategy. It illustrates, as well, the kind of game playing that infuriates business. Why can’t we base decisions on their merits!

Bob Chernow is a Milwaukee businessman, a former River Hills Trustee and the former chair of the Regional Telecommunications Commission and the Milwaukee River Non-Pollution Commission.

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