It took the new liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court less than 24 hours to become embattled over a controversial – and unexplained – decision.
Former Madison, Wisconsin, mayor David Cieslewicz, a self-described “sort of liberal,” says the new liberal majority on the state Supreme Court has engaged in a “senseless partisan witch hunt” by firing respected state Courts Director Randy Koschnick.
In an August 2, 2023, blog post, Cieslewicz wrote, “Liberals took over the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday and promptly stepped on their own story. The first action of the new 4-3 liberal majority was to engage in a senseless partisan witch hunt.”
Read his full blog post here.
Liberal journalist Bill Lueders also criticized the firing, saying the liberal justices need to explain it.
Dave Cieslewicz was Madison’s mayor from 2003 until 2011.
According to Cieslewicz, “They fired the state’s courts administrator because they could and, apparently, because he’s a conservative. Never mind that his job has nothing to do with partisan politics and he had executed it so well that the state Bar Association recognized Randy Koschnick for his service.”
Cieslewicz joins a chorus of growing now-bipartisan criticism against the liberal justices, who have yet to provide any reason for Koschnick’s sudden firing, which occurred Wednesday, the day after new liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in, cementing the liberal majority.
Cieslewicz added: “According to a story in this morning’s State Journal, he (Koschnick) helped alleviate the state’s court reporter shortage and organized a summit on mental health in the court system. He received an award from the Wisconsin Bar Association in 2020 for helping smooth court operations during the pandemic.” He also noted that, although Koschnick ran as a conservative for state Supreme Court years ago, he had not injected politics into the non-partisan State Courts Director position.
The other liberal justices involved in the firing were Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet, and Jill Karofsky. According to Koschnick, Karofsky called him Monday to say the liberal justices had the votes to fire him but would not tell him why. They did so with no meeting or agenda and while he was out of state.
The chair of the state Senate’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, Van Wanggaard has slammed the firing, saying that the liberal justices did not follow the law or state Constitution, violated their oaths of office and are “power hungry.”
“The Wisconsin Constitution grants administrative authority to the chief justice, not the court majority. Today, the court majority decided to ignore the constitution and bestow that power onto themselves,” Van Wanggaard said.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s two conservative justices, Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and Justice Rebecca Bradley, also sharply criticized the move.
Ziegler chastised the four liberal justices for “reckless conduct” and called the firing an “unauthorized action.” Bradley called the firing a political purge and “abuse of power,” and said the four liberal justices made the decision in secrecy. Koschnick said Rebecca Bradley wasn’t even aware of it until he called her Monday, after Karofsky called him to inform him that the liberals had the votes to oust him.
Cieslewicz called himself “sort of a liberal” and said that he is glad Protasiewicz won and he wants abortion rights restored. However, he thinks this action was wrong.