Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz has been under fire since being elected.
Running on a platform to overturn newly drawn district lines, Republicans have created a panel to investigate her.
After the panel was formed, a liberal watchdog filed a suit to prevent the panel from carrying out its investigation.
When Protasiewicz was running for election, she did not hide the fact that she thought the district lines that Republicans drew after the last census were unfair.
Her election stunned Wisconsin conservatives, with the court being turned over to a liberal majority and the newly elected justice with a clear agenda.
During the campaign, she had called the lines “unfair” and stated that it was “rigged” to benefit Republicans during the election.
It was a given that Democrats would file a gerrymandering suit after she took her seat on the bench.
After Protasiewicz took her seat, a lawsuit was filed by Democrats, with Republicans demanding that Protasiewicz recuse herself from the case.
Even with her remarks before the election, Protasiewicz claimed that she was not biased and had not already made up her mind.
The Republican response was to form an investigative panel. The panel consisted of former state Supreme Court justices David Prosser, Pat Roggensack, and Jon Wilcox, who would decide whether impeaching Protasiewicz was justified.
American Oversight then filed a lawsuit to have the panel disbanded.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington disagreed with the premise of the lawsuit, ruling:
“The waiting period expresses the legislature’s preference for enforcement by district attorneys.
“Because that preference is central to Wisconsin’s statutory scheme for open government, American Oversight’s failure to either wait for the district attorney to refuse or for twenty days has deprived the Court of competency to award it any relief.”
American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer responded to the decision:
“Our quick action achieved that goal, bringing to light important documents and information about the composition and recommendations of the panel — notably, the fact that former Justices Prosser and Wilcox advised against the impeachment of Justice Protasiewicz — that otherwise might have remained shrouded in darkness.”
While it is unlikely that Protasiewicz will be impeached, actions by both sides have brought some fairly serious issues to light.
I say it is unlikely she will be impeached because two members of the panel, Prosser and Wilcox, have already advised the state Speaker that they did not believe Protasiewicz’s comments rose to the level of an impeachable offense.
The opinion of the third-panel member has not yet been made public.
I would tend to side with that conclusion, but I would also say that Protasiewicz should have recused herself from the case due to her public comments when she was running for office.
Much like Judge Engoron in the Trump case, Protasiewicz’s mind is clearly made up on this issue, and any claim otherwise made by the newly-elected justice would appear to be an outright lie.
When you openly call the maps “unfair” and “rigged,” what possible conclusion can she come to once the case is presented?
With there now being a liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Protasiewicz’s vote is the swing vote, so we know how this case will fall without hearing a single fact, simply because most liberal court members these days walk the political ideology line rather than the allowing the facts to dictate the outcome of the case.
Since Protasiewicz has refused to recuse herself from the case, Republicans need to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court in necessary because there is simply no way that Protasiewicz should be permitted to rule in that case.