Wisconsin Chief Justice Annette Ziegler said the new state Supreme Court liberal majority’s action usurping the Constitutional authority of the chief justice is “nothing short of a coup” and constitutes a “pattern of lawless bullying.”
“Really they have changed the Constitution to insert a committee instead of the words chief justice,” Ziegler said. “The Constitution is not being followed here. This has been completely out of bounds. Constitutional rights are firm. This invented committee is in violation of my colleagues’ oath, the Constitution. It’s illegitimate and unenforceable.”
She said she is weighing and considering all of her actions and would not rule out suing the liberal majority but said she hoped it would not get to that point.
Ziegler made the comments on Monday, August 7, 2023, on the Dan O’Donnell show on WISN 1130 AM. They come on the heels of her sharply worded press release Friday after the four liberals – Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet, Janet Protasiewicz, and Jill Karofsky – suddenly replaced the authority of the chief justice with a new “Supreme Court committee.” They gave themselves the authority to appoint 2 of the 3 committee members. The other conservative on the court, Rebecca Bradley, has also spoken out against the justices’ actions.
That action, as well as the liberal justices’ unexplained, secretive firing of respected State Courts Director Randy Koschnick, a conservative, has earned growing bipartisan criticism. Even a Milwaukee judge who endorsed Protasiewicz is now saying it violated the state Constitution and the judges’ oaths.
Ziegler said the liberal justices took the words “supreme court administrative committee” and were “putting those in the Constitution instead of the words chief justice. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to be the administrative head of the judiciary. The administrative authority of the chief justice has always been clear cut” in the state Constitution.
She said the liberal justices upended the “court’s own procedures and practices” that existed for 40 years and through five chief justices.
Ziegler, a conservative justice, said she believed the liberal justices made the changes to get “cases they believe deserve preferential treatment to the front of the line,” since the chief justice had authority over scheduling.
Ziegler also criticized the liberal majority’s unexplained firing of respected State Courts Director Randy Koschnick, saying they were “purging a really good employee from the court and doing so in a way that was completely unprecedented.”
She said the liberal majority did so “in a way that was completely unprecedented, procedurally flawed and legally flawed,” noting that Koschnick had “completed 18 years of judicial service. He has done amazing things as the director.”
“Then we see the wrecking ball back in action, and they strip the role of the chief justice,” she noted.
Back in 1998, there was a similar move to create a committee that went nowhere, and liberal Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley spoke against it, Ziegler said.