April 15, 2015

Intervenors seek to dismiss the lawsuit Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson filed in federal court...

... to retain her position as chief after the voters of Wisconsin amended the state constitution to make the position depend not on seniority but a vote taken among the 7 justices. I wrote about the lawsuit in a post called "The puzzling argument that Shirley Abrahamson was elected to the position of Chief Justice and has a federal right to keep it."

Here's the PDF of the motion to dismiss. There are numerous arguments for dismissal — well worth reading — but I'll highlight one:
All of plaintiffs’ federal-law arguments turn on the premise that an interpretation of the Amendment that allows the justices to elect their Chief Justice after the April 7 election results are certified is “retroactive.” But that is not what “retroactive” actually means. Plaintiffs’ arguments are premised entirely on prospective conduct: the selection and service of the next Chief Justice after certification of the election. This defect is fatal.
UPDATE: The federal judge has denied the motion to intervene, so that's the end of the motion to dismiss. The arguments in support of the motion to dismiss are as good as they ever were, and the defendants who are already parties in the case will be able to raise them:
... U.S. District Judge James Peterson said in his order Tuesday that the voters' interests will be adequately represented by those already named in the lawsuit.

25 comments:

mikee said...

Power corrupts, as the saying goes.

Some people refuse to understand the difference between ownership and stewardship.

madAsHell said...

I'm guessing.....5 cats.

tim maguire said...

I don't understand this argument. If Abrahamson is claiming that her term should be governed by the rules in place when her term began, then it doesn't matter that she may be re-elected, thus delaying (potentially indefinitely) the loss she is now suing to avoid. The fact that she has to lobby for this position every two years and live with the threat of loss is an unconstitutional burden if she has a constitutional right to keep the position in the first place.

tim in vermont said...

What is the real issue, can anybody tell me? What reform is she holding off with this? What is the political payoff for her keeping that job?

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't see the federal question here. Abrahamson is saying that she has been deprived of her office because of the passage of the Amendment. But, couldn't the people of Wisconsin pass an amendment simply ending her term as a supreme court justice? So if that is the way she wants to interpret the amendment, why does that violate her rights.

cubanbob said...

Abrahamson was elected to a term as a supreme court judge, no more, no less as Meade succinctly explained it. The position of chief justice is determined by WI law and that is all there is to it. New law, new rules. Abrahamson has no contractual right to be chief justice. Frankly just for her arrogance alone the legislature ought to impeach and remove her.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

A federal judge has denied an attempt by voters to intervene and stop a lawsuit brought by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson challenging the timing of a recently approved constitutional amendment.

http://www.channel3000.com/news/politics/judge-denies-voters-attempt-to-intervene-in-abrahamson-case/32379210

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Ignorance. I've added an update.

Levi Starks said...

Voters.... LOL

damikesc said...

She didn't RUN for Chief Justice. There is no violation of anything here.

Real American said...

The judge was wrong. Politicians typically do a poor job of representing the voters in lawsuits. Moreover, there are registered voters as named plaintiffs. Shouldn't they be dismissed as well?

Richard Dolan said...

Nice brief on the motion to dismiss, which will save the state defendants time and trouble in drafting their own.

It's interesting that the lead lawyer for the proposed intervenors was David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler. He was on the other side of the Section 1983 argument when he represented various parties suing in federal court to stop the John Doe investigation of Walker's allies (Club for Growth, etc.).

Mike said...

Ah the delicious topic returns. Where is Garage?

My new favorite aspect of this story is that Abrahamson is the author of the opinion that if no other date is specified, constitutional amendments take affect immediately upon certification of the vote.

So she has to argue against her own written opinion to follow through on her stupid suit. This is what Democracy looks like (in WI).

Alex said...

Need more tales of secret routers!

Alex said...

Mike said...
Ah the delicious topic returns. Where is Garage?

My new favorite aspect of this story is that Abrahamson is the author of the opinion that if no other date is specified, constitutional amendments take affect immediately upon certification of the vote.

So she has to argue against her own written opinion to follow through on her stupid suit. This is what Democracy looks like (in WI).


So self pwnage huh?

BarrySanders20 said...

As a young lawyer I made opposing counsel, a former Iowa Supreme Court justice, eat a shit sandwich using an opinion he had drafted ten years earlier while on the court. The old guy turned red and was literally spitting his response -- different facts, holding didn't apply, taken out of context, etc. Circuit judge almost apologetically said the case law bound him to go my way.

I hope Shirley is hoist upon her own petard, if that is possible.

Desperately clinging to power -- it's not just for men anymore.

It would be great if Roggensack is elected chief. Swap one bitter old woman for a calm and sensible one. With a first name like Patience, how can she not be a good chief?

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Shirley, you jest.

Anonymous said...

What is the real issue, can anybody tell me? What reform is she holding off with this? What is the political payoff for her keeping that job?

There must be some power in the position. The Republicans and the WMC wouldn't spend over $600,000 and over two years worth of effort just to settle a personal score, would they?

Todd said...

madisonfella said... [hush]​[hide comment]
What is the real issue, can anybody tell me? What reform is she holding off with this? What is the political payoff for her keeping that job?

There must be some power in the position. The Republicans and the WMC wouldn't spend over $600,000 and over two years worth of effort just to settle a personal score, would they?

4/15/15, 1:34 PM


Don't really know but at least they wouldn't set the IRS or DOJ on you!

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, how much did all that John Doe crap cost?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, how much did all that John Doe crap cost?

Not nearly as much as Wisconsin trying to defend the ban on gay marriage

Don't really know but at least they wouldn't set the IRS or DOJ on you

WMC probably wouldn't be able to, but there is no reason to think the Republicans wouldn't do so. They, like the Dems, have abused the power of government in the past to settle personal scores.


Not sure what either of those responses have to do with my comment. I'm not saying the GOP and WMC were wrong to spend over 1/2 a million dollars and over two years of effort in getting this amendment passed. I was just pointing out that there must be some sort of power in the Chief Justice position in order for them to spend that much to make a change.

Unless, of course, it was just about personal revenge and they don't care about the costs.

Curious George said...

I think I just figured out what this is about...I haven't heard or read it anywhere else. I just looked it up, and if she serves out her term being the chief too, she will be the longest sitting chief is Wisconsin history. Otherwise she's second.

That's all you need to know about Shirley.

Curious George said...

"madisonfella said...
I'm sorry, how much did all that John Doe crap cost?

Not nearly as much as Wisconsin trying to defend the ban on gay marriage

Don't really know but at least they wouldn't set the IRS or DOJ on you

WMC probably wouldn't be able to, but there is no reason to think the Republicans wouldn't do so. They, like the Dems, have abused the power of government in the past to settle personal scores.


Not sure what either of those responses have to do with my comment. I'm not saying the GOP and WMC were wrong to spend over 1/2 a million dollars and over two years of effort in getting this amendment passed. I was just pointing out that there must be some sort of power in the Chief Justice position in order for them to spend that much to make a change.

Unless, of course, it was just about personal revenge and they don't care about the costs."

There is little power at being chief, but a poor one can be disruptive...and this of course is an option you left out. There have been libs on the court that didn't get along with Abrahamson...she is a very corrosive person. And the court has issues. The new system, which most states have, is simply better. Something libs could care less about.

damikesc said...

WMC probably wouldn't be able to, but there is no reason to think the Republicans wouldn't do so. They, like the Dems, have abused the power of government in the past to settle personal scores.

When?

Nixon TRIED to use the IRS to attack enemies and they wouldn't do so.

Only conservatives deserve that kind of treatment, apparently.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

This case is about tenure in office. Abrahamson holds the office, and possession is 9 points of the law.

Sure, this amendment is another point, but it's got to overcome the first 9 points.

And how many points do voters get? None. That's how many points they got in Hollingsworth v. Perry. That's how many points the intervenors got today.