Monday, February 28, 2011

Milwaukee City Attorney: Walker's Bill Likely Unconstitutional

In response to Milwaukee Alderman Joseph Dudzik's request to review the constitutionality of Walker's budget repair bill, Milwaukee City Attorney Grant Langley stated, " our judgement, the courts would find the statute unconstitutional on three grounds..." The letter to Dudzik states that the bill is likely unconstitutional under both the federal and state constitutions.

The first reason the bill may be unconstitutional has to do with the pensions of city employees. Under the state constitution the state cannot create laws that interfere with local city pensions, but Langley believes that is what the budget repair bill does. The other two reasons have to do with the reduction of benefits for public employees. Langley states the reductions are a violation of both federal and state constitutional contract rights.

According to the same BizTimes article, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has sent a letter to Governor Scott Walker requesting that he ask the State Attorney General for an opinion. Barrett states that he is "unconvinced" that the provisions are unconstitutional, but cannot request an opinion himself.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is a Republican. So even if Walker follows through with the request, Van Hollen may not opine against the Republican governor.

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