April 8, 2015

After Wisconsinites vote to amend the state constitution to change how the state supreme court's chief justice is selected, Shirley Abrahamson sues in federal court to keep her position under the old provision.

Under the old provision, Abrahamson was entitled to the position because she is the most senior member of the court. Under the amendment we voted for in yesterday's election, the justices elect their own chief. What is the federal question that allows this to be heard in federal court?
To have the selection process change immediately would shorten the term of office to which Abrahamson was elected, she argued, and would therefore violate her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection rights.

She also asks the court to block the other six justices on the court from taking any action to remove her as chief justice. Earlier Wednesday, before Abrahamson filed the lawsuit, Justice Pat Roggensack told The Associated Press that she hoped to meet "quite soon" to discuss how to proceed following the amendment's adoption....
ADDED: On reading this, Meade said: "I think what should be said is that this changed the terms of her office, not the term of her office." (That is, voters elected her to serve as a justice for a 10-year term, and under the old provision, by virtue of her seniority, she would be chief. Under the new provision, the terms of her job have changed, so that seniority does not entail service as chief, but the justices get to vote for a chief. Her term is the same: 10 years.)

AND: As they say in Wisconsin (sometimes!): This is what democracy looks like.

98 comments:

Michael The Magnificent said...

There is nothing a Democrat hates more than Democracy.

Gusty Winds said...

"would therefore violate her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection rights."

Does the current Chief Justice have some type of personal ownership of the position to claim violation of "her constitutional rights"?

Does she own it, or do the people of Wisconsin?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Throwing a hissy fit and going to court is a good way to ensure that your colleagues don't vote for you...

Michael K said...

Is it money or just ego ? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Gusty Winds said...

I wonder if Ms. Abrahamson thought the same of Walker's ownership of the Governor's office during the recall.

AJ Lynch said...

Ur2old Shirley. Retire already.

Btw, Professor, any idea who is footing the bill for Shirley's lawsuit?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Hate to make such a predictable pronouncement, but this is just par for the course for liberals-- all for the little guy until he fails to vote your way. Then it's off to the courts.

rehajm said...

She looks tired.

Gusty Winds said...

I'm picturing a pissed off Cruella Deville.

EDH said...

Prosser was right!

If you recall, Prosser referred to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson as a “total bitch” in front of their judicial colleagues, and allegedly put his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck in an attempt to choke her.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

When I first read this post, I assumed it was either a joke, or a hypothetical set-up for a law school exam question.

Bobber Fleck said...

Meade is correct.

She was elected by the people of Wisconsin to the office of Supreme Court Justice. The laws of the state then made her Chief Justice through her circumstances. The law has now been changed and those circumstances now longer entitle her to be Chief Justice.

A bitter piece of work she is...

gadfly said...

It seems to me that the same voters who changed the 1889 law that awards Chief Justice status based on court longevity will now end her favorable string of elections when next she runs for office.

After all, voters either got tired of reading her 450 court-ruling write-ups or maybe the new mix of voters have turned red - or both.

traditionalguy said...

It looks like the rubber exercise bands have come after her now . It's not nice when a stretched tight Prosser snaps.

But if you live by a political sword, you will die by a political sword.

Irene said...

This likely is about more than Justice Abrahamson's tenure as Chief. If the seniority rule persists, then the next in line to be Chief is Justice Bradley. Justice Bradley currently is "Number Two."

Continuity.

garage mahal said...

She is protecting the will of the voters.

Skyler said...

Was she elected as chief or was she elected as a justice and she happened to have seniority, making her chief?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Before we can get to the federal question, we nonsubsribers have to get past the Wisconsin State Journal question.

Answer a survey question to continue reading this content:

Which college have you taken at least one course from in the last 5 years?

Check all answers that apply

Ashford
ECPI University
Brown Mackie
Western Governor's University
Fortis
Harrison College
None of the above

My answer, to that question and yours, is none of the above. If this were fill in the blank, I would write in "Article I, Section 10."

Abrahamson may very well have a case that, as applied to her current term as Chief Justice, the rewriting of the terms of her office is a bill of attainder or ex post facto law. Is Dartmouth College v. Woodward still good law?

Bobber Fleck said...

This is how democracy works?

Elections have consequences?

We won?

Looking out for the voters?

Representing the views of the little people?

A nation of laws?

Bob Boyd said...

Can the voters recall her in Wisconsin?
And could they get it done before God does?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Due process? Wasn't her due process the amendment vote itself? Suddenly judges worry about retroactive application or ex post facto rules, or want to assert ownership rights in the face of regulatory changes that materially harm them as individuals? Geez, Calder v. Bull is good enough for us little people, but not for a capital J judge? Hell, if your county rezones a piece of property you own from commercial to residential and thereby decreases its value greatly, the S. Court doesn't think you're owed any compensation, and that's for something everyone agrees you own! The voters of her state changed the terms of her position and she wants relief. Good luck, ma'am.

Texas Annie said...

Well put Meade.

Anonymous said...

It's mine!

MINE!!

RichardS said...

There is precedent for this from the early republic. After Jefferson become President, Congress repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801, eliminating a bunch of district and appellate judgeships. That was considered constitutional. They were allowed to eliminate offices, even though the Judges had, in theory, good behavior tenure.

If we have a living constitution, of course, there are no settled precedents.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now that is petty and sad. Well, it would be sad, if it weren't so damn funny. :-)

George said...

Changing the organic law is, well, changing the organic law. Her very filing of the suit is evidence of her unsuitability.

robother said...

So, she claims a due process protected interest in her her Rehnquist stripes.
When she loses, I hope there will be a formal ceremony involving the new CJ yanking the stripes off her black robe before the entire Court and bar arrayed in ranks.

Mr. D said...

They will have to pry the gavel from her cold, dead hands.

David said...

There are the welfare and government benefits kind of entitlements, and then there is this crap. S.A., chief of the court which is charged with protecting the constitutional rights of the citizens of Wisconsin, wants to be exempt from a constitutional amendment just passed by the citizens of Wisconsin.

It's time for the Old Battle Ax to resign. She won't, of course, so she can curl up in her bitter little corner of the law, slathering envy and regret on her angry thoughts, hanging on to the last shred of power and prestige that she thinks she has.

The good news is that when judges of the future read her opinions, some will remember this, and even the fair minded will discount her insight and objectivity, ignoring her ideas and relegating her memory to a curious footnote about a selfish woman in a strange time.

So you see, some good can come of nearly anything.

Jeff Weimer said...

@Garage - How is she "protecting the will of the voters" if those voters very specifically made their will known by changing the state constitution?

JorgXMcKie said...

"They will have to pry the gavel from her cold, dead hands." Is there something wrong with that?

Greg Hlatky said...

For progressives, Democracy only exists when it gives the results progressives want.

Brad said...

We are, of course, a representative republic, not a democracy ....

With that said, I agree with the argument that her "term" of office hasn't been changed a whit.

n.n said...

Abrahamson doesn't think much of her colleagues' judgment, if she is proactively seeking an order to stay a democratic conference.

Drago said...

Greg Hlatky: "For progressives, Democracy only exists when it gives the results progressives want."

Not even then.

Edmund said...

Maybe as Chief Justice, she gets a better parking spot. Losing a good parking spot will make anyone mad.

Sam L. said...

OK, When does the Amendment become effective? Now? Later?

Skyler said...

The federal question is that the State is a party, thus the US Supreme Court has original jurisdiction.

"In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction." Clause 2, Section 2, Article III of the US Constitution

Skyler said...

I love this: "She campaigned extensively and expended substantial resources for reelection on that theme of continuity in the chief justice position and would not have sought reelection if there was a question about whether her reelection would retain her in the office of chief justice," the lawsuit says.

So if I campaign for dog catcher and tell the voters some fantastical promise that I will have the biggest dog catcher budget and I am elected, does that then oblige the city to give me a big budget?

Democrats are increasingly on display as raving lunatics.

James Pfefferle said...

I think Shirley is premature with her case. She is still the Chief Justice.

In theory she could be reelected to the position by the other justices, so she has suffered no damages at this time to seek relief from by the Federal courts.

Fen said...

What's the precedent here? If a constitutional convention decided that US Senators would be appointed by State Governors instead of elected, would the current crop of Senators have to resign? Serve out their term?

Hucbald said...

Reason number one trillion why lawyers shouldn't be allowed to be judges. If she engages in shysteristic rationalization like this in an attempt to thwart the will of the people, she has never been qualified to be a judge at any level. She doesn't even belong in a traffic court.

caseym54 said...

One could go further, and say that this frivolous suit demonstrates that she is no longer qualified to be a justice at all.

caseym54 said...

"If a constitutional convention decided that US Senators would be appointed by State Governors instead of elected, would the current crop of Senators have to resign? Serve out their term?"

Not applicable. Close to it would be if the governor could now select which one was called the "senior" Senator.

caseym54 said...

Skyler, then she should should be honor-bound to resign if the case goes against her. Also: problem solved!

garage mahal said...

I voted for Chief Justice Abrahamson. Thank you for respecting my vote and fighting for it.

Seeing Red said...

How much is this going to cost WI taxpayers?

Seeing Red said...

What does that mean, GM?

Anonymous said...

She probably knows this will go no where, but she is trying to clog things up in the court so that she can remain Chief Justice for as long as possible.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, liberals are sore losers, and the more liberal they are the less gracious in victory or defeat.

Petunia said...

No, you didn't vote for CHIEF Justice Abrahamson, Garage. NO ONE DID. She is chief SOLELY through her seniority. The state Constitution has now been changed, and there is a new procedure for choosing the CJ.

Abrahamson should just retire. She's a terrible, biased justice who refuses to schedule cases she knows her side will lose. Time to go.

Joe said...

Who wants someone so clueless and stupid to be on any court?

Drago said...

Seeing Red: "What does that mean, GM?"

It means his vote should count extra 'cuz "left!". Your vote?

Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Looking quickly at the governing law, it provides that "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
."

While this is pending, the majority of justices should amend the procedures so that it becomes an empty title. She remains chief, but they can work around her, e.g., if she is bottling up a decision, a majority can discharge it, and any of her internal operating or administrative decisions become recommendations subject to approval by a majority of justices.

This would also be a great time to begin to prepare the recall petition.

Mark McNeil said...

Refusing to throw your hat into the ring by hanging on to it seems almost guaranteed to fail.

Freeman Hunt said...

I remember reading one of her opinions. The lawsuit is exactly what I would expect from the writer of the opinion I read.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake said...

If she dies before her term expires does the state have a cause of action against her estate for breach of contract?

clint said...

"and would therefore violate her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection rights."

I guess I can see the due process argument -- though I don't see how it could hold up.

But what's the equal protection argument here?

Jasmina Boulanger said...

In January 1980, I was a newly minted mid-year grad of the UW Law School and Justice Abrahamson came in very early on a snowy morning to swear me into the Bar and give me time to catch my flight to LA where the California Bar exam and my job awaited me. I always thought she was gracious to do this and have held her in personal esteem even when not agreeing with her decisions or analyses. Now, even I think she's over the line.

mccullough said...

If the state provides a takings remedy, which it does, she hasn't been deprived of any property without due process of law. The only property interest in being chief is the higher salary she is out the remainder of her term.

She has no liberty interest in being chief.

rcocean said...

She can still be chief justice. She just have to get her fellow justices to vote for her.

LoL.

rcocean said...

Judges should be forced to retire at 75. Having an 81 y/o deciding cases that could affect working people is absurd.

garage mahal said...

Voters voted on how the chief justice is selected. The chief justice has already been selected. Abrahamson ran her race as chief justice. I voted for that. Nothing in the referendum or amendment indicated to voters that Abrahamson would be removed as chief justice. If you don't like due process move to fucking north korea you fascist little twats.

George Ferko said...

@Left Bank of the Charles

not a bill of attainder because it is neither punishment nor aimed at one person

not an ex post facto law because the provision is civil not criminal

Skeptical Voter said...

Give the old girl a broom and tell her to ride off into the sunset. What a tool!

iowan2 said...

garage, is that the stance you took when you owned slaves? No constitutional action is going to deprive you of the property you own?

paminwi said...

Garage you are so full of it. She could ONLY run for the position as a Supreme Court Justice. She could NOT run for Chief Justice. If the other candidate had won against her HE/SHE would NOT been Chief Justice. You can not have 2 people running for the same office but for a different job.

Get a grip - she's going down!

Drago said...

garage: "Nothing in the referendum or amendment indicated to voters that Abrahamson would be removed as chief justice. If you don't like due process move to fucking north korea you fascist little twats."

LOL

Garage is going full "Anthony Weiners accounts were hacked! Hacked I tellya!!"-mode again.

Drago said...

paminwi: "Garage you are so full of it. She could ONLY run for the position as a Supreme Court Justice. She could NOT run for Chief Justice."

It's asking a lot of our middle school scholar to comprehend such things.

He voted for a supreme court chief justice darn it! And ain't no city slickers like all y'all gonna tell him different!!

Plus, he's known some black people.

cubanbob said...

Just for this bit of high-handed arrogance the legislature should impeach and remove her.

Alex said...

garage apparently hates Constitutional government, prefers the 'rule of mob'.

The Founding Fathers knew they had to deal with 1/3 of the population that felt the same.

Skipper said...

It's always fun to watch lawyers sue each other.

garage mahal said...

"Get a grip- she's going down!"

Probably. She is going up against billionaires and corrupt judges. Your peeps. Yay! KOCH SMASH

garage mahal said...

Just as the founders intended. 15% faction deluded by plutocrats deciding important matters for everyone.

n.n said...

Democracy is a rejection of minority rights. Dictatorship is a rejection of majority rights. The American experiment is a Constitutional Republic that acknowledges both in equal measure. It's unfortunate that the original compromise with leftists marred an otherwise admirable endeavor. It's further unfortunate that a compromise was necessary in order to address the existential threat posed by aggressive British, French, Spanish (i.e. Mexican), and numerous domestic tribes and nations.

In any case, this isn't about our Constitutional Republic, but Abrahamson disqualification of her peers' credentials and judgment.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Fools. She only took this damned job because of the structure promised to her by her "peers." Now, in the middle of the game, so,e damn voters want a rule change?

Okay, maybe if you give the Chief the $532 million dollars her brilliance and dedication to superiority would have surely earned her in the private sector.

Otherwise this vote was fraud purified and enhanced with the honey-tainted democracy that has enriched too many wolves and killed too many sheep.

traditionalguy said...

But Garage, you only object to secret routers. This is a fully public router that routes the Chief Justice position to whomever a majority of the Justices vote.

No justice is denied a right to be voted into the job until they are routed out.

Rusty said...

Because my daughter is home I've been watching reruns of "Friends"
Garage is even more wacky if you read him as Joey Tribiani.

tim in vermont said...

If you don't like due process move to fucking north korea you fascist little twats.

No garage, North Korea would be were a total acceptance of lefty interpretation of the law is considered "due process," so perhaps you are the one who wants to live in that worker's paradise. In this country, we at least try to pretend that the voters are sovereign.

tim in vermont said...

Koch Brothers disturbing garage's dreams again.

tim in vermont said...

It's almost as if garage has given up all hope of ever electing a majority left-wing justices again.

HA HA HA HA HA!

I must send those Koch Bros a couple of fine Cuban cigars.

Michael McClain said...

LibCong protecting her gilded rice bowl.

Frank Byrne said...

Abrahamson has been on the court longer than the average lifespan when the original seniority rule was established. Our present contingency could not possibly have been anticipated to this ugly extreme. Which leaves me wondering, why no arguments about intent?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Hopefully both Abrahamson and Bitchtits Mahal get some very aggressive terminal Ovarian cancer and this will all be a moot point.

Peter said...

IF she were to prevail, wouldn't that make it practically impossible to ever change the rules that govern legislatures (such as how committee memberships are determined)?

Mike said...

garage mahal said...

I voted for Chief Justice Abrahamson.


Right. You voted for her but you don't get a vote for chief justice. Didn't you know there was a new law giving the justices sole vote for chief?

Mike said...

She is going up against billionaires and corrupt judges. Your peeps. Yay! KOCH SMASH

Comedy gold, Garage, and pitch perfect progressivism when it comes to campaigns. She outspent the next highest campaign spender by 250% but your lament is that someone MIGHT have more money than her. Do you also write Obama's inane speeches on this topic in your spare time?

Loren said...

All for democracy, until the majority doesn't vote the way you wish.

ussmidway said...

The voters of Nevada re-elected Dirty Harry Reid in 2010 when he was Senate Majority Leader. Under the Garage Mahal formula, he would be able to remain in this position -- as his personal property -- despite the changing landscape in the Senate in 2012 & 2014. So, he should sue in the Supreme Court to remain in the post as he held it during his last election. Otherwise the voters in Nevada are being disenfranchised? Wow...

The backwardness of this thinking is truly hilarious. In this world the Rules of the Senate would be subject to Judicial Review, a position nobody would expect or defend, not even the recently demoted Senator from Nevada, last seen recovering from his ass-kicking on New Years Day.

damikesc said...

15% faction deluded by plutocrats deciding important matters for everyone.

So Abrahamson SHOULDN'T hsve been re-elected when so few voted for her?

Or is turnout relevent only when you dislike the result?

RonF said...

"Voters voted on how the chief justice is selected."

Correct.

"The chief justice has already been selected."

The voters have just provided that a majority of the Supreme Court justices can change that selection.

"Abrahamson ran her race as chief justice."

If I understand Wisconsin electoral processes, she ran for a seat on the Supreme Court. A law provided that if she won she would be Chief Justice, but that was independent of your vote. And that law has been changed.

"I voted for that."

In your mind, perhaps. But what did the actual ballot say?

"Nothing in the referendum or amendment indicated to voters that Abrahamson would be removed as chief justice."

Did anything in the referendum or amendment indicate that she would be retained? Seems to me that it indicated that it would be up to the Supreme Court justices.

"If you don't like due process move to fucking north korea you fascist little twats."

Always glad to see you using your intellectual powers, grasp of the law and appreciation of the will of the electorate to their fullest extent.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

If this sort of stuff is what comes with being a college graduate in the state of Wisconsin, then Scott Walker is looking better than ever.

Curious George said...

Shirley Abrahamson is a petty, selfish, bitter piece of human garbage.

Curious George said...

Under garage's logic, slave owners would be able to keep the slaves they had after the 14th Amendment was ratified.

JorgXMcKie said...

"Shirley Abrahamson is a petty, selfish, bitter piece of human garbage."
That's exactly why those who voted for her did so.

CJ said...

Read this friends. http://domsdomainpolitics.blogspot.com/2015/04/abrahamson-spiteful-shirley-they-jest.html?m=1#comment-form

Green-Peoples Media said...

Oh, look, it appears that the majority of the commenters here are supporters of the current corporative-state system now in force in Wisconsin, and many other states of the Union.

With this amendment, you now have the One Party to Rule Them All in full effect. The corporative-statists now own all 5 components of Wisconsin govt:

Executive
Senate
Assembly
Regulatory/Administrative, and of course,
Republican Supreme Court.

How much more victory over the "liberals" can you now achieve? It looks like you've reached Peak Political Power.

After the Peak, of course, comes the Decline.

Remember: 3rd Reich was supposed to last 1,000 years. It made it through 13 years.

Yours truly,

a Wisconsin Radical
(not a "lib")