« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 opinion(s) today (and 3 NFP memorandum decision(s)) | Main | Ind. Decisions - Upcoming oral arguments this week and next »

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides Wis. union case today involving inflatable rats

ILB: This opinion is remarkable for several reasons ...

In Construction and General Labor v. Town of Grand Chute (ED Wis.), a 27-page, 2-1 opinion including many full-color photos of the inflatable rats, and with Chief Judge Wood and Judges Easterbrook and Posner all on the panel, Judge EASTERBROOK'S opinion for the majority begins:

Rats. This case is about rats. Giant, inflatable rats, which unions use to demonstrate their unhappiness with employers that do not pay union‐scale wages. Cats too—inflatable fat cats, wearing business suits and pinkie rings, strangling workers. Here is what they look like, as deployed during a labor dispute in the Town of Grand Chute, Wisconsin: [ILB: see opinion for the photos] As the pictures show, the rat and the cat are staked to the ground, to prevent the wind from blowing them away. Those stakes led to this litigation. * * *

[p. 10] POSNER, Circuit Judge, concurring and dissenting. I agree that the judgment in favor of the defendant (the town) must be reversed, but I disagree that the case should be remand‐ ed. The balance of evidence is clear enough to justify our de‐ ciding that the union’s constitutional right of free speech was violated. * * *

[p. 20] I’ll scandalize some readers, who think it improper for a judge to stray outside the official trial record, by sharing with them my experience with a roadside union rat. I some‐ times drive to work on a major divided highway called Mar‐ tin Luther King Drive, which runs north from Hyde Park, where I live, south of downtown Chicago, to downtown. As one nears the downtown on MLK Drive one sees (or rather saw, because during the long gestation of this case the rat— alas!—was removed, whether because the labor dispute be‐ tween union and employer was resolved or for some other reason), on the east side of the street, a large inflated rubber rat named Drape (short for Draper and Kramer, the employ‐ er with whom the union that put up that rat was fighting). Every time I drove past the rat I glanced at it, as it was the only noteworthy sight on my route. This glance never caused me to swerve, crash, crouch in my seat, avert my eyes, hit a pedestrian, or cause other mayhem. Nor did I ever observe an accident, even a swerve, in the vicinity of the rat. I saw no driver, or pedestrian, upon glimpsing the rat flee in terror. And yet this rat, like its Grand Chute cousin, was close to a major street—in fact much closer than the Grand Chute rat was to a major street; for while the Grand Chute rat was 70 feet from the highway, my Chicago rat was only about three feet from MLK Drive. I took a close‐up photo of the rat, and another photo of it from across the street. Here are the two photos: [ILB: see opinion for J.Posner's photos]

ILB: Here is one of J. Posner's photos. from p. 21 of the opinion, introduced by: "my Chicago rat was only about three feet from MLK Drive. I took a close‐up photo of the rat,".

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 19, 2016 05:15 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions