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IRG: Nothing changed with Act10 since last challenge

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(The Center Square) – The latest argument against Act 10 has been tried before, but some think this time it could work.

Lawyers for the teachers’ union in Abbotsford on Tuesday tried to once again make an equal protection claim in the latest effort to strike down Act 10.

“The distinction Act 10 created between these groups of employees lacks a rational basis. and for that reason violates [the Wisconsin Constitution],” attorney Jacob Karabell told the judge.

Specifically, Karabell says the public safety carve out creates two classes of public employees.

But Jacob Curtis, an attorney with the Institute for Reforming Government, told The Center Square the argument has been tested in court once before to no avail.

“Since its passage in 2011, two separate federal courts of appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and a federal district court have all upheld Act 10,” Curtis said. “In particular, in 2013 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to Act 10 on equal protection grounds. The plaintiffs in the current challenge…bring essentially the exact same claim as the one rejected by the 7th Circuit. While not binding, the federal court’s rejection of the equal protection claim should give pause to the current court.”

Act 10 opponents have sued over the law since it was passed and have not won a single case.

Curtis said the only thing that is different this time around is the balance of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court.

“The only material element that has changed since the most recent challenge to Act 10 is the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s partisan makeup,” Curtis noted.

Wisconsin has a new liberal-majority court for the first time in more than a decade.

The hope, Republicans say, is for Act 10 opponents to get the law before the court by any means necessary.

Act 10 supporters say ending the law would rollback controls over local unions, particularly teachers in Wisconsin. Ending Act 10 would also rollback the billions of dollars in savings that local taxpayers have seen since Act 10 passed in 20011.

“Act 10 was historic in nature, providing much needed tools for local units of government to adequately manage their budgets,” Curtis said. “Outside of select unions, most local officials and administrators (even from progressive areas of the state) understand that the elimination of the Act 10 tools and the resulting bargaining over every aspect of employment and benefits would result in significant increases in their respective budgets and a commensurate increase in tax burdens for property taxpayers.”

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