A measure spearheaded by Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republicans in the legislature this year to pare down collective bargaining rights has sparked an intense debate in the state, resulting liberal activists and labor to rally against a sitting Supreme Court justice and initiate recalls against several Republican state senators.
Feingold says that while he does not like recall elections, this may be the exception to his rule.
"I've never been a fan of recall elections," said Feingold. "I understand they are part of our constitution in the state, and there may be appropriate occasions to use recalls. This could be such an occasion. What the governor and his cohorts did here did such violence to our state, that it is one of those times when I think it is reasonable to at least look at this issue."
Feingold said the collective bargaining law needs to be overturned, requiring new majorities in the state Senate and Assembly as well as a new governor. He stressed that he is not an advocate of the recalls, but he is also not criticizing them.
"The easiest time to do it, ideally, would be in 2014, when all those things are up. But if there's a way to do it before that ... it has to at least be considered."
Feingold's name has been mentioned in the state as a possible opponent of Walker, should a successful recall drive take place next year or beyond. He's also been talked about as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014. But for his own part, Feingold says he's not thinking about running for office right now.
"I'm not focused on running for electoral office," said Feingold. He said he is enjoying teaching law at Marquette University. Feingold is also writing a book and started a group this year whose goal is to eventually overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 "Citizens United" ruling on campaign finance. "I have no plans to run for public office," he reiterated.
But Feingold isn't shying away from being a vocal critic of Walker.
"This governor has chosen to govern in a way that is so unlike the great state of Wisconsin, I can't imagine anything worse than the way he conducted himself," Feingold said.
Weighing in on national issues, Feingold was critical of both the budget compromise for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year and Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal. "It insulates those who are privileged and asks everybody else to sacrifice. It's unjust. And it also doesn't get the job done," he said of the Ryan budget plan.
On the debt ceiling debate, Feingold said, "I think it's good to make it tough, but I don't it's responsible to act like it wouldn't be a problem if we didn't raise the debt ceiling."
A staunch advocate of campaign finance reform who worked alongside Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Feingold expressed confidence that "Citizens United" would eventually be overturned.
"I think people need to take a deep breath and realize -- one person, one justice, and this whole things gets reversed. So let's get (President) Obama reelected -- maybe it'll happen before he gets reelected, maybe it happens after he gets reelected. This can be done," Feingold said.