‘Raw exercise of overreaching power:’ Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice complains about new liberal majority

Wisconsin has a new liberal majority following 15 years of Republican reign, and the Court is working on reducing the powers of the conservative chief, among other things that clearly do not sit well with the Republicans.

Chief Justice Annette Ziegler against her colleagues

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Chief Justice Annette Ziegler complained about her liberal colleagues and accused them of a “raw exercise of overreaching power.” However, Justice Rebecca Dallet fired back, claiming that their moves were designed to make the court “more accessible and more accountable to the people of Wisconsin.”

Making the Court more responsive

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Liberal Justice Rebecca Dallet said after four justices voted to slash the power of the Court’s conservative chief Justice, impose new filing deadlines, and reopen organizational meetings that these changes will make the court “more inclusive, timely, and responsive.” However, deep partisan divisions on the court aren’t new, especially in this state. 

Liberals took over after 15 years

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For the first time in 15 years, Wisconsin has a Democratic majority, and it will remain that way for at least two years. The Court’s administrative conferences were opened in 1999 but were closed down in 2012 by the GOP majority.

More accusations 

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Ziegler also accused “four rogue members of the court” of meeting in a “secret, unscheduled, illegitimate closed meeting in an attempt to get the Chief Justice’s constitutional authority as an administrator of the court.” She said any such action is “illegitimate and unenforceable.”

Allegations on social media

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Other conservative justices also shared their discontent primarily via X. Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote a lengthy three-part post on X.

Justice Rebecca Bradley’s post 

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X post opened with “Ann Bradley & her cabal of extreme leftists-Rebecca Dallet, Jill Karofsky & Janet Protasiewicz, met in secret, without their colleagues, to usurp the power the people gave the Chief Justice. They have no respect for the people they are supposed to serve or for the constitution.”

Dallet’s response

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In response, Justice Dallet expressed, “On behalf of a majority of justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I want to express my disappointment that the Chief Justice, rather than collegially participate in a scheduled meeting of the court today, is litigating issues normally discussed by Justices either in conference or through email, through media releases.”

Justice Dallet had more to say 

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The Justice added, “It is not my intention, nor the intention of a majority of my colleagues, to continue to litigate internal issues through the media.”

Changes in deadlines

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Madison wrote that according to the new procedure, any concurrences or dissents from the deadline “shall be circulated within seven business days of the circulation of the order granting or denying a petition to commence an original action.”

Open meetings

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Another significant change would mean returning to holding open, public administrative meetings, a practice abandoned in 2012 and again five years ago. According to Madison, this means, “Wisconsin high court justices would discuss and vote on changing judicial policies across the state court system, including when they should recuse themselves from Supreme Court cases, rules regarding evidence and coming up with new ways to encourage lawyers to provide free legal services.”

Judge Protasiewicz said she supported opening the court meetings

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Janet Protasiewicz was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in one of our nation’s most expensive court races. Her term started on August 1st.

The swearing-in

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During the swear-in, the Judge said, “The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s execution of our duties without favor to special interests, political pressure, or our own personal beliefs is vital to giving the people of our state trust and confidence in our judicial system.”

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