Two of the most controversial pieces of the Wisconsin public sector union law passed amidst great cacophony and brouhaha in Wisconsin last year were struck down in federal court last week, but the fundamental thrust of the law survived. Teacher and other unions can continue to have dues deducted from member paychecks rather than having to bill the members directly, and the unions don’t have to go through a fresh certification vote every year.On the other hand, the portions of the law that sharply curtail union bargaining powers remain in place. Both sides claimed a partial victory; nobody was happy.From the Via Meadia point of view, the federal court decision looks like common sense. Annual certification ballots amount to Mickey Mouse harassment. The judge pointed out that the state didn’t put such limits on public safety unions (afraid of the political consequences Wisconsin lawmakers left police and fire unions untouched). On the other hand, Judge William Conley upheld the state’s right to regulate the ability of its employees to form labor unions.The voters of Wisconsin will now get a turn to weigh in. The recall election for Governor Scott Walker has been scheduled for June.Regular readers know that Via Meadia doesn’t have a lot of warm and fuzzy in our heart for public sector labor unions. But we also think that reformers need to proceed with great care. Wisconsin Republicans were right to take on the public unions, but went at the problem in ways that saw them fighting harder battles on less favorable ground than they had hoped. (Ohio Republicans had a similar experience when voters rejected an Ohio anti-union law at the polls.)Issues like this are contentious and often can’t be settled by statesmanlike compromise and backroom deals. Sometimes you have to fight.But politicians need to pick their fights wisely and well. Throwing in provisions like the annual certification vote requirement was bad politics and, apparently, bad law. There are ways to get more done with less fuss and we suspect that if the Wisconsin GOP had it all to do over again, it would move in a more focused and less provocative way.Measure twice, cut once.