April 10, 2015

The puzzling argument that Shirley Abrahamson was elected to the position of Chief Justice and has a federal right to keep it.

Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has sued in federal court, asserting that her federal constitutional rights have been violated by the new amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that provides for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices to elect their chief. Under the old provision, article VII, section 4(2) of the Wisconsin Constitution, "The justice having been longest a continuous member of said court.... shall be the chief justice," and Abrahamson has been chief justice since 1996.  She had been elected (to a 10 year term) in 1979 and 1989, so she became chief justice in the middle of her second term. The people did not elect her chief justice. We only elected her justice. Someone becomes chief justice by the operation of section 4(2), but the people elected that individual under section 4(1), which says:
The supreme court shall have 7 members who shall be known as justices of the supreme court. Justices shall be elected for 10-year terms of office commencing with the August 1 next succeeding the election....
I don't see how, under the old provision, there was any election to the position of chief. And, as noted above, Abrahamson originally took on the position in 1996, midway through her second 10-year term. Now, I want to focus on paragraphs 41, 42, and 44 in the complaint in Abrahamson's federal court case:
41.  Plaintiff Abrahamson was subsequently reelected as chief justice by popular vote in 1999 and 2009, earning ten-year terms of office in each of those elections. She campaigned extensively and expended substantial resources for reelection on the theme of the administrative work she had done as chief justice and continuity in the chief justice position.
The expression "reelected as chief justice" isn't quite right. In the election previous to her 1999 election, in 1989, Abrahamson could not possibly be said to have been elected to the position as chief since she didn't become chief until 1996. But more important, in all of these elections, she was running under section 4(1), which says only that "Justices shall be elected for 10-year terms of office." I'm not seeing any reference to "as chief justice." The chief justice role falls upon the justice who has the greatest seniority, by virtue of section 4(2), which is separate from the section about elections, 4(1).

Paragraph 41 also says that Abrahamson chose to stress her accomplishments and leadership as chief justice, when she campaigned for reelection in 1999 and 2009, but I don't see how her chosen campaign theme could transform the election into an election to the chief justice position, rather than simply an election as a justice, where there was an assumption that the method of selecting the chief would remain the same. Paragraph 42 continues with this notion that the campaign's theme determines the scope of the power of the office people are voting to fill:
42.  In the most recent election, which took place April 7, 2009, her campaign committee was called the “Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson Reelection Committee,” and her campaign advertising ended with the tagline, “Wisconsin’s Chief,” attached as Exhibit C, making it clear to voters that a vote for her was a vote to continue her in the office of chief justice.  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. She also cast her vote in that election to support her continuation as chief justice. Plaintiff Abrahamson won that election on April 7, 2009 with more than 59 percent of the vote.
Note that there is also the assertion that she wouldn't have run for office if she had thought it was possible to be deprived of the position of "chief." That's interesting to know, but it's hard to see how that disempowers the people from amending the constitution to change how the position of chief is determined. Abrahamson counted on being chief, and she wouldn't have deigned to run for a fourth 10-year term if it didn't come bundled with leadership of the group of 7 justices. But so what? Why would her hopes and expectations  — or the hopes and expectations of the people who voted for her — limit our power to amend the constitution? Do those who get elected to office somehow lock in the existing scope of their power? That's a strange notion in itself, but it's even stranger to suggest that the answer to that question would depend on whether you touted a particular aspect of your power in your campaign rhetoric!
44.  As a result of the successful campaign conducted under the backdrop of the seniority rule then contained in article VII, section 4(2) of the Wisconsin Constitution, Chief Justice Abrahamson and her political supporters had the settled expectations that she would continue to serve as chief justice until the end of the term to which she had just been elected, which ends on July 31, 2019.
I don't see how "the backdrop of the seniority rule" in section 4(2) changes the nature of the election provided for in section 4(1), which is an election to the position of justice, not chief justice. There was an expectation that the section 4(2) would remain the same, but I don't see how you can pump that expectation up into a federal constitutional right and deprive the people of the power to change section 4(2).

Abrahamson's argument is that the change to section 4(2) should apply only prospectively and that she has a right to continue in the position until the end of her term in 2019. The argument is based on her rights and the rights of those who voted for her (some of whom are also plaintiffs). She's saying it would violate Equal Protection "by diluting and debasing the value and meaning of the votes" that were cast for her in 2009. And she's claiming that it violated her Due Process rights. (With the chief position comes an extra $8,000 added to the regular salary of a justice, which is $147,403.)

A big problem with filing this case in federal court is that there is a state law question as to whether the amendment to section 4(2) applies immediately. She could win on that state law ground and that would avoid the federal constitutional law question. That is, quite obviously, a reason for the federal court to abstain, since it can't give an authoritative interpretation to the state law question. Federal courts engage in this form of abstention — Pullman abstention — out of respect for the authority of state courts, and yet here is a state supreme court justice invoking the federal authority. I find that very strange indeed. And yet, it seems clear that the state's chief justice wouldn't want to submit to the authority of her own state's courts, where she doesn't see herself commanding a majority. If she did, she could simply accept the amendment to section 4(2) and keep the position of chief because her fellow justices would vote to have her as their chief.

And why wouldn't they? What an affront to take the chief position away in the middle of the venerable justice's term!

ADDED: Someone in the comments asked what the ballot looked like in the 2009 election. But think about it: The ballot could not possibly have denoted the election as an election for chief justice because the opponent in that election wouldn't have assumed the position of chief justice. He would have been the furthest from the position of greatest seniority and the last in line to be chief under section 4(2). The vote had to be only for justice. Nothing else makes sense.

117 comments:

rhhardin said...

Call them all chief justices and elect a chief justice in charge.

garage mahal said...

The people did not elect her chief justice

I did. She ran her campaign on Chief Justice.

Chuck said...

Yet another fine analysis by Professor Althouse.

So to be clear about Chief Justice Abrahamson's proclamation that she would not have run for re-election if there had been different rules for selecting the Chief; what she is saying is that she ran because she wanted to extend her own seniority, to help Democrats prolong their control on the Chief's position. If she couldn't have that, by seniority, she wouldn't have bothered to run at all.

It's okay for her to say that. I don't find it at all incredible that she'd hold that view. She's entitled to her own partisan politics. And the notion that she was making some sort of personal sacrifice, to keep a Republican justice (favored by the majority of the court) out of that position.

But I do expect that a majority of fair-minded Wisconsin independents will find that statement alarming. I'm very surprised that Abrahamson would make such an admission.

rhhardin said...

Chief justice ought only to mean the authority to update the website.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

I did. She ran her campaign on Chief Justice.

The fact that you are stupid enough to believe her campaign does not change the office for which the election was held.

TosaGuy said...

GM: None of the laudatory text from newspapers in that video you linked refer to her ability as a chief justice, they simply refer to her actions as a state SC justice.

Bob Boyd said...

What did it say on the ballot?

TosaGuy said...

I am sure those in Nevada who voted for Harry Reid in 2010 because he was Senate majority leader are equally disappointed that voters fired him (by electing lots of GOP senators in other states) from that position.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
The people did not elect her chief justice

I did. She ran her campaign on Chief Justice."

First, there is nothing in the ad that says she is running for CHIEF justice. Second, that's not even a Abrahamson ad dumbfuck.

Failure. It's your state of life.

JAORE said...

Her campaign was no more than when an incumbent Congress critter says re-elect me and you will continue to be represented by the chair of a powerful committee.

That Congressperson can not stop a rules change that shuffles committees. Even if the Garages in their district get really, really sad.

Ann Althouse said...

"'The people did not elect her chief justice.' I did. She ran her campaign on Chief Justice."

I address the argument in the post, you know.

You want to say that her campaign rhetoric and the voters' mental state changes the legal scope of the position to which she was elected?

How would that work?

If the President ran for reelection and made much of some power that he had under the current law, would Congress therefore not be allowed to change the law until his term ends? Elected officials lock in their powers for whole terms?

pfennig said...

Three observations:

1. She obviously assumes that she will not be elected Chief by her peers.

2. It is hard to see that she ran for the office of Chief when, had she lost, the winner would not have been Chief.

3. This really impacts Bradley more than Shirley.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If the federal courts abstain until the state courts settle the state law issue, and the issue went to the state supreme court, surely Shirley would have to recuse herself. But in theory every state supreme court justice would have to recuse themselves, since they all have a strong interest in the outcome.

That means the state law issue would be determined at the appeals court level. So which appeals court would hear the appeal of the state case, and what is their partisan leaning?

If Abrahamson has a reasonable chance of getting a liberal appeals court to rule in her favor then this could be a clever move on her part. Starting with the Federal lawsuit could just be a bit of misdirection

Skipper said...

This lawsuit is proof positive that jurists are as partisan political as legislators.

madAsHell said...

Isn't this the woman that was involved in a brawl with another state supreme court justice??

YoungHegelian said...

If the Wisconsin state constitution was amended fair & square, how can she not be hosed?

It's not like it's the duty of any group of constitutional amenders to keep any particular person in power. Their only duty is to then dispense the amended law fairly & equally afterwards.

Curious George said...

It's funny though that you show a PAc ad, claim it'e proof of Abrahamson's intent. Well, that would indicate COLLUSION! LOCK UP THAT OLD BITCH! JOHN DOE III!!!

Garage, you are the gift that keeps on giving.

madAsHell said...

Never mind. She is not part of the choke-hold imbroglio

Ann Althouse said...

"What did it say on the ballot?"

That's a great question that points to what I now see as the strongest argument against what Abrahamson is saying.

It had to be an election for justice only, since somebody ran against her in the election, and he could not have become chief justice. He'd have been the most junior justice, not the most senior.

D.D. Driver said...

It's also curious that the Chief Justice signed what is obviously a false affidavit.

She signed her affidavit the day before the election and swore, under oath and penalty of perjury, to events that HAD NOT EVEN OCCURRED YET.

For most, perjury is a big deal. For a Supreme Court Justice, I'm assuming this is a "no harm, no foul" dealie.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It's worth putting up a fight to be Chief Justice so you get to wear the biggest Indian headdress.

Curious George said...

Since the Judge refused to provide a temporary restraining order the court should vote now to get this old bat out. Much harder for her is she is out. It makes it so much more apparent what a bitter selfish piece of human garage she is.

Chuck said...

Bob Boyd: A look at a 2009 Wisconsin sample ballot shows the obvious; that the race was simply for "Justice of the Supreme Court," not Chief Justice. And Abrahamson was not identified as Chief Justice on the ballot.

Here's a link to a Kenosha County site where they have sample ballots (and election results) down through the years:

http://www.co.kenosha.wi.us/index.aspx?NID=840

rhhardin said...

I'd guess the point is to delay any change.

There'd be some hold put on electing another chief justice.

It's the by any means necessary trick.

Unwritten rules unfortunately matter more than democrats think in rendering open rebellion necessary.

Playing with fire is just another means.

Curious George said...

Since the Judge refused to provide a temporary restraining order the court should vote now to get this old bat out. Much harder for her is she is out. It makes it so much more apparent what a bitter selfish piece of human garage she is.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Her claim for the extra Chief Justice pay is very strong. Her claim for the right to exercise the duties of Chief Justice is less strong, but can the two be separated as the amendment was written?

And it seems there is a question as whether the amendment applies to her. If that was the intent, is this another case of botched draftsmanship?

It is curious that she doesn't plead Article I, Section, 10, Clause 1.

garage mahal said...

First, there is nothing in the ad that says she is running for CHIEF justice.

Except the very first second of the ad that says CHIEF Justice?

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson Re-election Committee was the name of her campaign.

Everything alright with you? You seem really agitated. Things aren't all well Walker Cult lately, are they?

Curious George said...

Show one ad by this cranky old bith declaring she is "running for Chief Justice."

There isn't one.

Next?

garage mahal said...

You want to say that her campaign rhetoric and the voters' mental state changes the legal scope of the position to which she was elected?

Not sure legally. But she did run on being Chief Justice.

rcocean said...

1) Voters don't elect Chief Justices, they vote for Justices.
People don't vote for Speaker of the House or Senate majority leader either.
2) The Amendment doesn't deprive her of the Chief justice position because she can still be elected to that position. Until that election she hasn't suffered any injury.
3) I'd suggest the legislature allow her to keep the Chief Justice salary for the remainder of her term.
4) She wouldn't have ran if she couldn't have stayed Chief Justice. Did she tell the voters that?
5) She's really a piece of work, isn't she? 81 y/o and pulling this crap. A true liberal - "Fuck you voters, I'm Shirley A. - I'm too big to obey your petty state laws"

rcocean said...

IF only we'd have elections for SCOTUS and 15 year terms. A major mistake by the founders.

rhhardin said...

It's always tactful to call an Indian you meet "Chief."

It's like calling any teacher you don't know "professor."

Marty Keller said...

Hope that the people running the Hillary! campaign all "think" like GM.

garage mahal said...

Show one ad by this cranky old bith declaring she is "running for Chief Justice."

Your wife is one lucky guuuurl.

Of course you aren't nearly bright enough to go toe-to-toe with Abrahmason. So you have only grade school taunts. Nothing pisses of an old, angry conservative quite like a brilliant woman.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember a time when garage linked to something that was actually what he purported it to be. I don't think he does it on purpose...it's just that third-grade level reading skills and a complete inability to think critically are not good qualifications for someone trying to participate in adult conversations.
He's like a guy who keeps lighting his farts on fire and ends up burning himself...over and over.
It's a shame that there wasn't the concern about concussions when he was a 6th grade football player.

Anonymous said...

You're assuming good faith.

Wisconsin passed a law awhile back requiring photo ID if you want to vote in an election.

So far, no photo ID has been required. Why is that? Oh yeah, because of lawsuits.

See how that works?

She will keep up the suit for as long as she can so that she can keep her position. It's not about winning the lawsuit, it's about getting a stay on any changes.

D.D. Driver said...

"Her claim for the extra Chief Justice pay is very strong."

But you do not get an injunction if there is a money remedy.

I Callahan said...

Nothing pisses of an old, angry conservative quite like a brilliant woman.

Sorry, not seeing a brilliant woman here. Anyone who would file suit in FEDERAL court so she can keep her state job, ain't all that brilliant.

Gahrie said...

Nothing else makes sense.

Since when has that mattered to the Left?

Curious George said...

rcocean said...
"Fuck you voters, I'm Shirley A. - I'm too big to obey your petty state laws".

Worse. She's ignoring the state constitution. Her oath:

"I, the undersigned, who have been elected (or appointed) to the office of ...., but have not yet entered upon the duties thereof, do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin; that I will administer justice without respect to persons and will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of said office to the best of my ability. So help me God."

Blackbeard said...

The Volokh Conspiracy has commented on this issue:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/04/10/wisconsin-justice-sues-to-stop-state-constitutional-amendment-from-taking-effect/

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
Show one ad by this cranky old bith declaring she is "running for Chief Justice."

Your wife is one lucky guuuurl.

Of course you aren't nearly bright enough to go toe-to-toe with Abrahmason. So you have only grade school taunts. Nothing pisses of an old, angry conservative quite like a brilliant woman."

Tap dancing only proves you have nothing. Noted.

David said...

The whole thing is a pathetic waste of time and energy. It's also counterproductive to the cause she purports to represent, since the common reaction for all but the most partisan is going to be "WTF?"

Wisconsin liberals are getting good at tossing bombs that explode before they leave their cold dead hands.

garage mahal said...

Anyone who would file suit in FEDERAL court so she can keep her state job, ain't all that brilliant.

The courts in this state are corrupt. Like Walker. Like the entire WisGOP.

Chuck said...

Check it out, Gargage; I gave you the link.

She ran for "Justice"; not "Chief Justice." It's on the ballot. Not that there was ever much doubt. It was just a bit of fun to see how far you'd extend your own partisanship on that issue. Althouse was right all along on this one.

MaxedOutMama said...

I don't see how you are not right, but obviously the current Chief Justice does not agree with you.

traditionalguy said...

She needed to follow the example of Texas Dems and had a political Dem DA indict all of the Legislators who passed the Amendment Bill that put it on the ballot in the first place for an act of intentional Political Blackmail against a sitting Chief Justice.

This GOP Crime spree using our Constitutional Democracy as a cover needs to be stopped.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Simple solution. Impeach her for being a power hungry old hag.

Then any claim to chief justice is moot.

Unknown said...

That she would think she has a tenable argument raises concerns about her ability to reason though issues in cases before her court.

Kevin said...

Shirley appears to have an unwarranted and unhealthy sense of ownership of a public office.

It would probably be better for the state of Wisconsin if she was removed from the court entirely.

Bob Boyd said...

I would like to be the first to welcome Shirley Abrahamson to the ranks of the bitter clingers.

gerry said...

The people did not elect her chief justice

GM:I did. She ran her campaign on Chief Justice.

Mahal indeed lives in his own, strangely defined world.

tim in vermont said...

Wow this has struck a nerve with garage. Maybe she is Abrahamson herself posting under that cognomen?

paminwi said...

My comment from Althouse's previous post on this issue. 4/8/2015 @ 10:15pm

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!

Big Mike said...

And why wouldn't they?

I dunno. Did she spend her term as Chief Justice deliberately antagonizing the justices who don't agree with her views?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The state constitution was changed by Democracy Now, but Justice Abrahamson refuses to MoveOn--the people have spoken but she wants to stand in the way of Progress.

AJ Lynch said...

In the warped librul mind, it does not matter what was printed on the ballot.

For proof, see Garbage Mahal's comment at 10:22.

traditionalguy said...

Shirley is sucking air as she tries a routine false on its face argument relying on semantics and misinterpretation of the words.

That worked once when there was no GOP opponents qualified to counter the Wisconsin Idea that our BS always wins elections. With a Scott Walker to calmly and with a smile present reality and win elections, those old ways lose today.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

For Mr. Mahal - when I cast my vote for Congresscritters one party was in control, so I was voting for the individual as Chairman, Majority Leader, etc. The electio overall changed the majority, so even though my guys won they're not Chairmen or Leaders. Whom do I sue??

Ann Althouse said...

"The Volokh Conspiracy has commented on this issue..."

That post is just taking notice of the lawsuit, not analyzing it in any way.

Anonymous said...

I confess I just came to the comment thread to see how quickly and profoundly garbage beclowned himself. (I can be petty in what amusements I seek out.)

I was not disappointed.

Bob Boyd said...

"Someone in the comments..."
That's all I am to you, Ann?
Someone in the comments?
What a fool I've been.

Anonymous said...

Abrahamson's big mistake was failing to run ads touting all the great things she'd do as God-Emperor.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Bob Boyd said...

"Someone in the comments..."
That's all I am to you, Ann?
Someone in the comments?
What a fool I've been.


Being someone in the comments got Meade pretty far...

Alex said...

Amazing how the LAW doesn't matter to garage mahal or any liberal.

I Callahan said...

The courts in this state are corrupt. Like Walker. Like the entire WisGOP.

What a chickenshit copout. It doesn't matter that they're corrupt (which they're not - you're just butthurt because your side lost and continues to lose). What matters is that the law is pretty clear, and she wants to completely sidestep it. And you think this is OK.

Seriously, dude. The hate within you is affecting your thinking. Get help.

Alex said...

garage mahal spewed...The courts in this state are corrupt. Like Walker. Like the entire WisGOP.

Haha.

Haha.

LOL.

ROFL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Slap me silly!

Alex said...

garage hasn't thought since 1985.

tim in vermont said...

Nothing pisses of an old, angry conservative quite like a brilliant woman- garage

In garage's world, 'brilliant' means 'usually agrees with garage.' Don't you guys see it? Isn't it amazing we haven't seen it all along? garage is brilliant! And he has been hiding it all this time through the ruse of making constant inane posts! Brilliant!

Alex said...

Reading the jsonline.com article about it. It's filled with pissy liberals like garage who only care what they want, not what the law clearly states.

Richard Dolan said...

Amazing, and quite pathetic that a sitting chief justice would file such a suit. Doesn't this justice have the slightest concern for the reputation and public standing of the institution on which she has served for some 35 years? Evidently not.

tim in vermont said...

"Corrupt" means winning elections. You have to understand garage's definitions, once you do, you will soon drop the notion that he is not honest. It's just that words mean different things to him than they do to us.

Alex said...

Liberals clearly only care about winning, not the law. I've never seen a conservative behave like this.

Anonymous said...

I agree her lawsuit has no merit, but the fact that the current office holder wasn't grandfathered (grandmothered?) in proves that the Republicans are willing and able to amend the state Constitution for petty political reasons.

PackerBronco said...

Blogger garage mahal said...
The people did not elect her chief justice

I did. She ran her campaign on Chief Justice.


In the same way that someone might vote for Harry Reid thinking of the power he wields as the majority leader. However they weren't voting for majority leader and you weren't voting for chief justice.

Alex said...

The gist of what I'm getting from garage is that he's like a child. He wants what he wants and stamps his feet when he doesn't get it.

Am I supposed to take liberals seriously?

Curious George said...

"madisonfella said...
I agree her lawsuit has no merit, but the fact that the current office holder wasn't grandfathered (grandmothered?) in proves that the Republicans are willing and able to amend the state Constitution for petty political reasons."

Uh, 53% of the voters amended the constitution Penquin.

Peter said...

"The courts in this state are corrupt. Like Walker. Like the entire WisGOP."

The People are corrupt; lets dissolve the electorate and get another?

garage mahal said...

Mahal indeed lives in his own, strangely defined world.

In the real world where Abrahamson ran as "Wisconsin's Chief".

Perhaps not listening to the lying partisan hack Curious George might pay some dividends?

garage mahal said...

You have to understand garage's definitions, once you do, you will soon drop the notion that he is not honest

Ruling in favor of people that elect you is corrupt in my book. SCOWI is a sick, demented, and thoroughly corrupt institution. Thing is, everyone knows it.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

SCOWI is a sick, demented, and thoroughly corrupt institution.

Sounds like a damn good argument for replacing the Chief Justice.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

Ruling in favor of people that elect you is corrupt in my book.

So the justices are not supposed to rule in favor of the people of Wisconsin? Even if the law is on their side?

Anonymous said...

Uh, 53% of the voters amended the constitution Penquin

You're only half correct with that statement. (But the "uh" is exactly how I imagine you starting off most sentences when speaking.)

And not sure what any of it has to do with my statement. It was a Republican-led effort which was passed twice by the Republican-led legislature. If it isn't the Republican Party who should get the credit for this amendment, then what organization should?

Obviously you responded because you can't NOT say something to me. Your long time obsession (with not only me, but also this woman you think I "really" am) simply won't allow that to happen.

Seeing Red said...

Of course it's corrupt, look who the Chief Justice is.

garage mahal said...

So the justices are not supposed to rule in favor of the people of Wisconsin?

Depends. Do they donate to their campaign?

I Callahan said...

Ruling in favor of people that elect you is corrupt in my book.

Now THIS statement is deliciously ironic. According to Garage's prior statements on another subject, it's just fine for unions to buy off politicians who will in turn rule in favor of unions. He saw nothing wrong with this.

Pitiful, Garage. Up your game, as someone once said.

Ken B said...

One election's theme was Yes we can! Turns out, No, we couldn't.

Gahrie said...

proves that the Republicans are willing and able to amend the state Constitution for petty political reasons."


At least Republicans amend the Constitutions....Democrats just ignore state constitutions and laws when it pleases them.

I Callahan said...

madisonfella,

I'll take that bait. You're right. Republicans are willing and able to amend the state Constitution for political reasons (I left out "petty" for a reason).

That said - to the victors go the spoils. In Wisconsin, the Dems did stuff like that all of the time - it's the nature of politics.

Don't like it? Convince enough people that it's wrong and you'll get enough votes to overturn it all.

Joe Dirt said...

Did you notice garages switch from "for" to "as"? First he says Abrahamson ran for Chief, but when that was shown wrong, he switched to saying she ran as Chief.

theribbonguy said...

Mensa Mahal said..

Depends. Do they donate to their campaign?

Just to be clear...If candidate "A" promises to push for some legislation that I hold dear, and I contribute to his/her campaign based on that promise, and upon be elected he/she follows through on that promise, that is your definition of corruption.

Boy, I really need to bone up on that whole representative democracy thing...clearly I have been misinformed.

Gahrie said...

I'm not entirely convinced that we are going to have presidential elections in 2016 at this point.....

MountainMan said...

That she would file such a lawsuit should bring into question her qualifications for even being on the Supreme Court of WI. LIving in TN, we seem to always be characterized by people in other states - especially Yankee states - as a bunch of low-class, hilbilly idiots, whether it be the common people or the political class. But from what I have read on this blog over the past 4-5 years about WI state government our politics and government here are absolutely exemplary compared to the ongoing antics in Madison.

Anonymous said...

...and Whooosh!
garage lights another one.

Look, he's sniffing the air.

Proudly.

Anonymous said...

That said - to the victors go the spoils. In Wisconsin, the Dems did stuff like that all of the time

I'm no fan of the Dems at all, but can't remember a time when they pushed to amend the state Constitution as payback against one specific individual. when in power they were petty quite often. But the Republicans in Wisconsin is raising it to a whole new level, and this amendment is just the latest in an on-going pattern.

Convince enough people that it's wrong and you'll get enough votes to overturn it all.

Exactly. Which is why I still voice my opinion, despite the constant harassment and childish attacks from others*.



*Not directed at you personally

Goju said...

She is going to lose the suit. But, expect to see this used to beat Walker with the old War on Women meme.

I Callahan said...

Not directed at you personally

Not taken that way, mf.
:)

Alex said...

Holy shit. Since when does "running for something" have anything to do with what the Constitution says?

Did garage just lay a deuce all over Wisconsin law?

Alex said...

madisonfella - then throw the bums out. That's how democracy works. But you apparently want some kind of cosmic justice that will strike Republicans down like the Old Testament god.

Unknown said...

---proves that the Republicans are willing and able to amend the state Constitution for petty political reasons.


Of course the truth is that the amendment was approved by the VOTERS of Wisconsin - it was not just a Republican legislative initiative. Just like a partisan liberal to ignore the broad base of support among the people for this change.

Anonymous said...

Did garage just lay a deuce all over Wisconsin law?

He sharted, Alex. He sharted.

SGT Ted said...

This shows her contempt for the voters and democracy.

Sebastian said...

@Chuck, early in the thread:

"I'm very surprised that Abrahamson would make such an admission."

But not shocked, right?

True, Dems are not usually quite so explicit about their lust for power. On the other hand, they're not trying all that hard anymore to keep the mask on (whether about judicial independence or mere honesty or anything else that might stand in the way). See Harry "Romney didn't win, did he?" Reid.

Hyphenated American said...

"I'm no fan of the Dems at all, but can't remember a time when they pushed to amend the state Constitution as payback against one specific individual. when in power they were petty quite often. But the Republicans in Wisconsin is raising it to a whole new level, and this amendment is just the latest in an on-going pattern."

It's not personal, it's strictly business.
But speaking about this specific thing - hey, in Massachusetts, they have changed the rules twice concerning the governor appointing the senator. When the governor was republican, they took away his power, but when the governor because a Democrat, they brought it back.
Facts are conservative.

dbp said...

What Hyphenated American said is funny: The Democrats rule change here came back to bite them in the ass.

When Ted Kennedy died, his replacement could have been appointed by Deval Patrick under the old rule. Since they changed the rules, there was a special election which was won by Scott Brown (R).

Anonymous said...

But you apparently want some kind of cosmic justice that will strike Republicans down like the Old Testament god.

You apparently don't know how to read, because I have never said nor suggested any such thing.

Real American said...

the other justices should just immediately vote on the Chief Justice issue and vote this old hag out of the big chair. If she doesn't like it, well, that's tough shit.

Rusty said...

OpenID madisonfella said...
I agree her lawsuit has no merit, but the fact that the current office holder wasn't grandfathered (grandmothered?) in proves that the Republicans are willing and able to amend the state Constitution for petty political reasons.

I seem to recall a mad Wisconsin democrat rush to hide out in Illinois.

ken in tx said...

This is an obvious case of the old rule, "When people say, It's not the money, it's the principle of the matter. It's the money."

geokstr said...

Prof Althouse said:
"If the President ran for reelection and made much of some power that he had under the current law, would Congress therefore not be allowed to change the law until his term ends?"


I can't think of a more inapt metaphor ever, Professor. Haven't you been following the news the past 6 years?

Obama's even run claiming he didn't have certain powers (think: amnesty), then changes the laws unilaterally and dares the Congress to try and stop him.

And what does he care if Congress passes new laws? He'll just veto them "until his term ends."

RecChief said...

is it just prestige, or is there some actual power in the office of Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court?

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but unless she can get an injunction, and get the higher courts to refrain from overturning it, this lawsuit only does her good if she wins a couple of years from now, right?

Largo said...

I know that Garage at one point said "[s]he ran her campaign on Chief Justice". The emphasis on the odd preposition is mine. It seems the more Garage is pushed, the more telegraphic he becomes.

Tell us George, can you expand that sentence a bit to let us know what it meant while retain the 'on'? I don't mean expand on your point. I mean rewrite the sentence so that we can understand what on earth 'on' meant.

Anonymous said...

is it just prestige, or is there some actual power in the office of Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court?

Must be some sort of power in the position because the WMC paid over $600,000 in order to get the referendum passed.

Then again, that's pretty much chump change to the upper 1%, so maybe its about them just making a point rather than actually accomplishing anything.

jono39 said...

We should thank Judge Abrahamsson for presenting us with a comprehensive record documenting her unfitness for ANY office of public trust. Thank You Your Honor. Goodbye.

jono39 said...

We should thank Judge Abrahamsson for presenting us with a comprehensive record documenting her unfitness for ANY office of public trust. Thank You Your Honor. Goodbye.

RonF said...

Garage, your statement that there's nothing in the amendment that directly addresses Justice Abrahamson's current status deserves serious consideration. I have given it consideration, and I think you are wrong. Here's why.

Here's the old wording:

"(2) The justice having been longest a continuous member of said court, or in case 2 or more such justices shall have served for the same length of time, the justice whose term first expires, shall be the chief justice. The justice so designated as chief justice may, irrevocably, decline to serve as chief justice or resign as chief justice but continue to serve as a justice of the supreme court."

Nothing in there says that once having become Chief Justice the holder has a right to it for the rest of their term no matter how the Constitution may change later on. What it says is that her position as Chief Justice was a function of her tenure as any given time. Consider that if she resigned from the Court, the then most senior Justice would immediately become Chief Justice. That provision did not confer the office of Chief Justice at single point and then stop being operative. It was a continuous function of who was most senior at any given time.

So Justice Abrahamson's status as Chief Justice was something she held at any given time because of that statement. Once that statement was gone out of the Constitution, then, her status as Chief Justice was extinguished, and the process in the newly amended text must be completed to provide a Chief Justice for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.