Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice William Bablitch said it was shameful the court issued decisions that order two different outcomes. "I don't know what the Judicial Commission is supposed to do, flip a coin?" he said. "It's just further evidence of the deep divisions in the court and the dysfunctionality in the court. It's very discouraging."Well, it can't be that dysfunctional. Just this week the court issued three unanimous decisions, two 6-1 decisions (Justice Prosser dissented in both), and one 4-3 decision, the latter being comprised of the unprecedented triumvirate of Justices Bradley, Roggensack, and Gableman in complete agreement.
What's caused a division are Gableman's "distasteful" shenanigans before he reached the court,* which apparently his colleagues are capable of setting aside when it comes to the business of deciding unrelated cases. But the fact that Gableman has demonstrated a high degree of competence on the bench doesn't mitigate the seriousness of the ethical violation three of those colleagues believe — with very good reason — he committed in furtherance of securing that seat.
* And after, at least through his lawyer's own distasteful shenanigans. Recall that Justice Crooks underwent a sea change in his view of the defendant's motion to recuse in State v. Allen, after Crooks got wind of James Bopp's performance at Gableman's demand for summary judgment hearing in his ethics case last September in Waukesha.
And who can say whether those shifting waters lapped onto the shore of Justice Crooks's decision to refuse mooring Gableman in the safe harbor of summary judgment. [That's enough metaphor — ed.]