Girl with magnifier

Monday, September 4, 2023

Wisconsin whine and cheese

Have you been watching what is going on in Wisconsin? Very nasty stuff at the Supreme Court. Republicans make up about 54% of the state and control 75% of the legislative power through gerrrymandering and ugly redistricting schemes.

Now they want to impeach the new liberal Supreme Court Justice before she has ever even heard a case. For bias. And prejudging cases.

Which is a hoot because we all know that conservative judges never prejudge a case, they come to every case with an open mind but they somehow all miraculously land on the favored politically expedient outcome every time through pure objective analysis. 

Remarkable, really.

You see the same thing at SCOTUS of course. Kavanaugh, Alito, Gorsuch, Barrett, all respecting stare decisis and not prejudging and then BOOM! you get Dobbs and see it was just a charade.

They obviously lie and pretend a lot better than we do. 

The current Chief Justice, Annette Zeigler, is accusing Dems of staging a coup. What balderdash!

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The conservative chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday told the new liberal majority in a scathing email that they had staged a “coup” and conducted an “illegal experiment” when they voted to weaken her powers and fire the director of state courts. Liberals gained a 4-3 majority on Aug. 1 when Justice Janet Protasiewicz began her 10-year term after winning election in April. Conservatives had held the majority for 15 years prior to that. The emails are the latest sign of broiling tensions on the court since liberals took control.

In their first week in power, the liberal justices voted to fire the state court director, hire Skwierawski and create a committee to do much of the work that the chief justice had done, a move that significantly weakened Ziegler. She was elected by the conservative majority to a second two-year term as chief justice in May.

Justice Rebecca Dallet, one of the four liberals, responded to Ziegler late Monday by saying she was “disappointed” that Ziegler was communicating through the media with a “deeply inappropriate, and at times partisan, tone and tenor.”

Dallet defended actions of the majority justices, saying everything they have done is constitutional.

“We are simply creating process so that a majority of the court can effectively work in the face of an intransigent and uncollegial chief who apparently insists on a public debate about issues for political purposes, rather than allow a court majority to function as it always has,” Dallet said.

What a bunch of crybabies and sore losers. You lost a majority on the court and think you can keep power and control? That is not the way it works. And the funny thing is, it was Republicans who changed the rules to give the power to appoint a Chief Justice to the majority rather than the old way, which was seniority.  But now that the ball is in the other court, they are spitting bullets.

The subject of all this caterwauling was the new majority’s decision to fire the conservative chief justice’s right-hand man, Randy Koschnick, the director of state courts, replacing him with an appointee of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker who will answer to the whole court, not just to Ziegler. According to Justice Rebecca Dallet, Ziegler spent months rebuffing the majority’s efforts to get her to choose a date at the start of the term to discuss Court business. The new majority called a meeting anyway. At that meeting the justices revised Court rules “to make Court decision-making more inclusive, timely, and responsive” according to Dallet — and effectively to prevent the chief from slow-walking the calendar, preventing cases she doesn’t want to hear from coming up.

None of this amounts to a constitutional crisis. Right-wingers’ claims that a “rogue majority” is violating the constitution doesn’t stand up to a simple reading of the clause they cite, Article VII Section 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution: “The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of the judicial system and shall exercise this administrative authority pursuant to procedures adopted by the supreme court.” (Emphasis added) The same section clarifies that “any 4 justices shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of the court’s business.” 

The four progressives who now make up the majority went ahead and conducted court business without Ziegler only after she refused to join them. Instead of participating, Ziegler chose to air her grievances on talk radio.

Her temper tantrum is reminiscent of losing Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly’s bitter, self-pitying concession speech on election night, which catapulted him into the Hall of Fame for sore losers.

Like Kelly, Ziegler can’t stand losing power and is publicly sulking about it. Kelly refused to congratulate Janet Protasiewicz, after she beat him in a romp, sniping that she was not “a worthy opponent” and sweeping off stage by calling down a curse on the entire state: “I wish Wisconsin the best of luck, because I think it’s going to need it.” Ziegler refuses to meet with her colleagues now that she’s in the minority and claims that she should still be able to make the rules.

“Look, the conservatives sowed this,” Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause-Wisconsin, observes of the bad blood on the Court. “They sowed discord.”

Republicans pushed through a constitutional amendment in 2015 changing court procedures just so they could oust the late, nationally esteemed Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. After they’d changed the rules so that chief justices are elected by the majority instead of chosen by seniority, conservatives on the Court went even further and pushed out Abrahamson before the end of her term. Ziegler was elected to her first two-year term as chief by her conservative colleagues in 2021 and in March 2023 they gave her a second term in a secret vote whose breakdown they refused to disclose.

You see the same exercise in raw power in Ohio, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, most places where the GOP is in control. Suppress the vote, stop citizens petitions, dilute minority voting, let friendly State Supreme Courts protect your gerrymandered districts and keep you in power.

Sad and disgusting really.


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Blue Heron said...


Blue Heron said...

As at the U.S. Supreme Court, recusal decisions are left to the Wisconsin justices themselves. In years past, conservative justices have argued that personal views they had previously stated did not mean they were required to recuse themselves from relevant cases.

For example, Justice Brian Hagedorn once compared homosexuality to bestiality, called Planned Parenthood “a wicked organization” and wrote that “Christianity is the correct religion, and that insofar as others contradict it, they are wrong.” He has said those statements would not warrant his recusal on cases about abortion, gay rights or religion."