Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in as the newest member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Aug. 1, following an impressive victory over far-right former Justice Dan Kelly earlier this year that gave the court a progressive majority for the first time since 2008. Since Protasiewicz joined the court, a lot’s happened: The liberals fired the director of the state court system, a former judge and Supreme Court candidate who holds some extreme social views; moved to adopt new rules for internal court governance; and agreed to hear a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the state’s gerrymandered legislative districts.
Republicans in Wisconsin have not taken any of this very well. In the leadup to Protasiewicz’s election—before she had even been elected—Republican lawmakers began tossing around the idea of impeaching her for … something to be determined. But that talk went dormant until more recently, when Assembly Speaker Robin Vos resurfaced the idea.
Two of the conservatives on the court, Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and Associate Justice Rebecca Bradley, have not handled the changes to the court very well, either. The liberals’ earliest moves have limited Ziegler’s powers as chief justice, which she’s alleged are abuses of power that violate the Wisconsin Constitution—though she’s been coy on what provision of the constitution, exactly. Still, that hasn’t stopped her from issuing press releases and writing op-eds denouncing the erosion of her power as somehow unconstitutional.
Bradley’s reaction, however, has been far more extreme. She’s used comments to reporters, tweets, and even official court opinions to launch baseless attacks on the legitimacy of the majority’s actions—criticizing them for partisanship and bias in ways that reflect her own partisanship and bias.
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