December 15, 2011

The Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics

The Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics is holding a public hearing this morning at 10:30. Among the agenda items is a proposal to make Chief Justice an elected position (currently it's awarded by seniority).* As there are four conservative Republicans on the Supreme Court, which is composed of seven justices, it's obvious what the resolution's sponsors are up to. For some reason Republicans harbor an intense dislike for the present Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson, and would like to see her replaced.** Ironically, three of those four Republicans have had their problems pursuant to the conjunction of "judiciary" and "ethics." Justice Annette Ziegler was publicly reprimanded for violating ethics guidelines. Justice David Prosser is now the subject of a Wisconsin Judicial Commission investigation concerning allegations he was involved in a physical altercation with one of his colleagues. And then of course there is Mike Gableman, the poster boy for Wisconsin's code of judicial ethics, which Gableman believes unconstitutionally abridges his First Amendment right to defamation.

Here's hoping someone raises these issues at today's hearing.

The resolution's partisan sponsors are pretty much asking for it.

* Among the resolution's sponsors is Senator Leah Vukmir, who called Justice Sonia Sotomayor and former Justice David Souter "dim bulbs."

Most lawyers can only aspire to be so dim. Funny thing is, Justice Souter wrote a watershed opinion*** a few years ago, which Vukmir has most likely never even heard of, raising the bar for prospective civil plaintiffs. In other words, it acts as a heightened guarantee against the "frivolous suits" that Leah Vukmir et al are otherwise so fond of bellyaching over.

So you tell me who's the dim bulb in this array. It ain't David Souter.

** Probably because she's brilliant, and this necessarily offends them.

*** I understand citations to it broak teh Lexis-Nexis, as the kids say.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the chief justice could be the justice who won reelection by, say, the largest margin of any of the other justices and therefore has the most popular support?

Display Name said...

Hmm. Why not pick the justice who raised the most money?

Magister said...

Why not pick the justice who raised the most money?


Too honest for the Republicans, probably. I would love to see this proposed as an amendment at some point, though, just for the amusement value.

illusory tenant said...

Resolution sponsor Rep. Tyler August's presentation should be around the 90 minute mark of the WisEye video. It's kind of sad actually.