The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld two divisive state laws on Thursday.
One is Act 10, Gov. Walker’s landmark legislation passed in 2011. It weakened collective bargaining rights for most public workers and sparked the largest protests the state has seen.
The court also upheld voter ID, the state law requiring people show photo identification in order to vote. However, that law remains on hold because of challenges in federal court.
The rulings come about three months before Wisconsinites vote for governor.
Just minutes after Gov. Walker declared the Wisconsin State Fair open for business, he commented on Thursday morning’s state Supreme Court decisions. He says it’s time for new conversations, now that the legal fight over Act 10 is over.
“Act 10 works, our reforms work, it is a clear contrast between what we would do, affirm that going forward, and if we elected somebody new who would chip away at that, would take us in the opposite direction where services would not be as good, and where property taxes would be likely to go up,” Walker says.
Walker seemed to be referring to Democratic rival Mary Burke. Her campaign reaffirmed her support for collective bargaining rights. While the governor had a lot to smile about on Thursday, the NAACP expressed disappointment over the court’s decision to uphold photo ID.
“NAACP Milwaukee Branch and others will continue to vigorously oppose every effort to keep people from exercising this most important right, the right to vote. We encourage all to make every effort to vote in the upcoming elections in August and in November,” NAACP President James Hall says.
Hall added that it’s tragic the decision has come down, 50 years after what’s known as Freedom Summer. That’s when activists registered as many African Americans as possible in Mississippi to vote. Thursday’s court rulings likely mean different things to different people, according to Amber Wichowsky. She’s a political scientist at Marquette University.
“The state is quite polarized when it comes to Walker and so for Walker supporters I think that the court’s rulings do provide some validation. Likewise, on the other side it gives some fire to the belly for those who are opposed to Walker and a number of pieces of legislation that he’s passed over the last two years,” Wichowsky says.
Yet, Wichowsky doesn’t think the state Supreme Court decisions will prompt people to vote. She says what will drive them are partisanship and the economy.