Thursday, January 15, 2015

Republicans Launch Two Prong Attack Against Chief Justice Abrahamson

Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have launched a two prong attack against Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson in an effort to remove her authority and to remove her from the bench altogether.

In the latter prong, which the Republicans started at the end of last year, they plan on setting a mandatory retirement age which would force Abrahamson to retire almost immediately:
State Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, said he plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session setting the mandatory retirement age at 75.

If passed by the Republican-run Legislature next year, all judges — except reserve or temporary judges — who are over 75 years old would have to retire immediately or within a matter of months.

Among them are three state Supreme Court justices: Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, 81, Justice Pat Roggensack, 74, and Justice N. Patrick Crooks, 76.
If Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley, 67, were to win election to the high court in April, his 10-year term would be cut short by the requirement. If Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, 64, defeats Daley, her third term would be shortened by one day.

Justice David Prosser, who turned 72 this month, also would be unable to serve his full term. It ends in 2021; Prosser would be 79.

Such legislation would give Republican Gov. Scott Walker numerous opportunities to appoint judges to his liking to fill unexpired terms of judges and justices hitting the mandatory retirement age.
Ah, but taking over the Chief Justice position and loading the Supreme Court against the people isn't enough for Scott Walker and his Republican cohorts.

Because as with all things Walker, there's more. There's always more.

Walker and his corporate cohorts also want to politicize the Chief Justice position, as John Nichols explains:
The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday held a rushed hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment that could create an avenue for ending Abrahamson's tenure as the chief justice. Historically, the chief justice has been the court's senior member. This has insulated the chief from disputes on the court and from outside political pressure. Under the plan advanced by conservative legislators and passed once by the Legislature, the selection of the chief justice would be politicized — with the seven justices choosing and replacing chief justices.

Backers of the measure hope to place it on the April 7 ballot. If it is passed, after a campaign that could well be influenced by significant spending from out-of-state interests seeking to undermine Wisconsin’s historic commitment to an independent judiciary, critics fear that Wisconsin could see an attempt to remove Abrahamson as chief justice before the completion of the court term to which she was elected.

Understand what this means: Currently, when an individual chosen by the voters becomes the longest-serving justice, he or she becomes the chief justice. That chief justice is not subject to the ideological whims and political twists and turns of the court; rather, he or she is accountable to the voters. If the voters do not like a chief justice, they can remove that justice at the next election. If the voters want to keep a chief justice on the job, they can re-elect that jurist.

Abrahamson respected the process. She sought re-election as the chief justice and the voters gave her a mandate to serve a new term on the court. Now, politicians are seeking to undo the process that Abrahamson and the voters respected.
I have been notified that the Republicans are holding a hearing on this bill on Thursday, January 15th, at 1:30 pm in 330 Southwest in the Capitol Building.

Given their interference with a woman's right to choose, pay equity and rape culture statements, the Republicans' misogyny is not a surprise.

Attacking Chief Justice Abrahamson and Lady Justice only takes their depravity to new depths.


  1. Did I miss something I thought we elected the justices for the supreme court. It was the voters decision to reelect Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Period!

  2. Has anyone alerted the EEOC? Clearly this mandatory retirement bill violates age discrimination laws! Again the few RW legislators & Walker would preempt/usurp the will of the people! Personally I value wisdom of most experienced judges (Randa exempted).

  3. And how can checks and balances work when 2 of the co-equal branches of state government conspire to overthrow the 3rd branch?

  4. This 75-year-old limit might sound good, but as others have noted, in some professions -- like symphony conductor and, yes, judge -- experience matters and a person's ability to navigate subtle nuances of the work only grows with age. So this GOP limitation not only is sexist and age discriminatory, it's anti-intellectual. Not all octogenarians are of sound minds or supremely wise, but many of those who persist decades into their work are by definition among the most capable.