Sunday, June 26, 2011
Our entire state Supreme Court must be impeached and replaced. Not just because of the still-developing news about Justice Prosser physically attacking Justice Bradley and choking her (or, Justice Bradley ramming her throat into Justice Prosser’s hands, if you prefer that spin), but because this latest revelation about the operations of our state’s highest court should become the impetus for the people of Wisconsin to remove all seven of them and consider changing the way we select justices for the highest court.
The state’s highest court has devolved into a politically divided, dysfunctional sitcom which now more closely resembles “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” than “Law and Order.” In short, the court can no longer be trusted to render impartial justice based on law, and every decision made by this court for the past couple years can legitimately be called into question.
The people of our state are probably not aware, at least not yet, of how unprecedented and dangerous it is to have a supreme court composed of two warring political factions, who not only disagree politically, but disagree at such a visceral, personal level, that you’ve got powerful evidence that one of the justices actually physically throttled another, over a disagreement about politics.
Not a disagreement about law, but a disagreement about politics.
Before Justice Prosser’s latest escapade came to light (courtesy of Bill Lueders, in his brand-new job at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism), a story which will continue to make national news this week, there was the unbelievable spectacle of the court’s decision regarding Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi’s hold on the so-called Budget Repair Bill. The Supremes, in a split decision, said in essence Judge Sumi was wrong. But the minority opinion issued by the highest court said in essence the majority was wrong POLITICALLY, not LEGALLY. BIG difference. HUGE difference.
A few years ago, when Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce purchased a seat on the highest court for Justice Ziegler (the “gut-check” judge) the highest court began drifting toward political partisanship; then when WMC bought a seat for Justice Gableman, full-on partisanship became the rule, and the behavior of the court and the justices descended into public bickering, sniping, and partisanship. This fetid stew of personality clashes was amplified this winter when protests over the budget and the Walker administration boiled over; and this latest revelation about Justice Prosser should serve to push the people of the state closer to not only getting rid of seven of them, but seriously considering how someone becomes a Justice of our state’s highest court.
I don’t know if we should go to merit selection; I don’t know if we should just dump all seven of them and start from scratch; but I do know this: this state Supreme Court is fatally and permanently flawed, and it’s time to start having serious discussions at every level about doing something about it.
Posted by Tim Morrissey at 10:37 AM