Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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‘Rogue’ Liberal Justices Met in Secret to ‘Gut’ Chief Justice’s Authority: Ziegler

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In an extraordinary missive, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler accused the court’s liberal members of meeting in a “secret, illegitimate meeting” to gut her authority today, calling them “four rogue members of the court.”

“The rogue justices’ attempt to go outside of this recognized procedure is an imposition of will and a raw exercise of overreaching power. Any such attempted action is illegitimate and unenforceable,” Ziegler wrote.

In response, liberal justice Rebecca Dallet whipped out two press releases, accusing Ziegler of lacking collegiality.

Conservative Rebecca Bradley then weighed in on Twitter, writing, “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.”

She added, “Behind closed doors, four rogue justices violated court traditions and procedures to rewrite the rules justices followed for decades. When Rebecca Dallet called the rule of law ‘garbage’ she meant it. Nothing will stand in the way of their blatant power grab designed to advance their political agenda. They sully the institution of the judiciary.”

Ziegler also released a pages-long document that contains the changes the liberal justices made to Supreme Court rules today; it shows that they went through the rules and removed the chief justice from many passages where she had authority, replacing the position instead with a new “Supreme Court administrative committee” they created. Two of that committee’s three members will be chosen by the liberal majority, meaning the left-wing justices can stack the committee to their favor.

Wisconsin supreme court

In one example, the liberal justices gutted the chief justice’s authority involving juvenile petitions to the waive parental consent prior to getting an abortion.

The stunning power grab comes as the court’s liberal majority barrelled out of the gates with an extremely dysfunctional start during its first week, accused of violating the law and state Constitution by secretly deliberating to fire State Courts Director Randy Koschnick, a conservative, and then by appointing Milwaukee County Judge Audrey Skwierawski to Koschnick’s position on an interim basis even though state law says judges can’t hold non-judicial posts during their terms. The conservative justices accused the liberals of abuse of power, reckless conduct, and engaging in a political purge, and the chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee said they violated the law, Constitution, and their oaths.

However, today, they doubled down.

On August 4, 2023, according to Ziegler, the liberals changed a state Supreme Court rule that says “the director of state courts shall be the chief nonjudicial officer of the court system in the state. The director shall be hired by and serve at the pleasure of the supreme court, under the direction of the chief justice.” They crossed out the word chief justice and replaced it with “supreme court administrative committee.”

You can see all of their changes at the end of Ziegler’s press release here: Statement-Chief Justice Ziegler 8-4-23 (for immediate release)-with proposal

They also stripped the chief justice of her power to make certain appointments, such as to the Planning and policy advisory committee, giving that power to the Supreme Court administrative committee that will be presumably be stacked with liberals. “There shall be a supreme court administrative committee comprised of the chief justice and two justices selected by a majority of the supreme court,” the changes say; liberals hold the majority on the court.

Janet protasiewicz
Janet protasiewicz, ann walsh bradley, and rebecca dallet.

They also gutted the chief justice’s authority over scheduling of original actions to the court, meaning lawsuits where litigants are seeking the Supreme Court to take up the action without it going through lower courts first. The liberal justices also included a provision that members of the court can have private discussions about pending rule petitions among themselves or with others.

The new changes also gave this newly created “supreme court administrative committee” the authority to set the schedule for oral arguments, decision conferences, rules hearings, and administrative conferences, instead of the chief justice. The liberals were accused of violating the rule giving the chief justice this authority when they secretly deliberated to fire Koschnick, according to previous press releases from Ziegler and the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee chair.

On Friday, August 4, 2023, as the day drew to a close, Ziegler, a conservative, sent out the press release that read: “Today, four rogue members of the court met in a secret, unscheduled, illegitimate closed meeting in an attempt to gut the Chief Justice’s constitutional authority as administrator of the court.”

The four liberal justices are Janet Protasiewicz, Rebecca Dallet, Ann Walsh Bradley, and Jill Karofsky.

“Court business concerning Internal Operating Procedures and Supreme Court Rules in conducted when seven members of the court convene with an agenda prepared by the Chief Justice and at a time set by the Chief Justice during the court’s business year, which is September-June,” Ziegler wrote.

Rebecca dallet
Rebecca dallet

Shortly thereafter, Dallet released her own press release that appeared to confirm that the majority of the justices – i.e. the four liberals – had taken a vote Friday.

“The majority of justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted today to advance a number of transparency and accountability measures. First, we have made a series of rules and operating procedures changes to make court decision-making more inclusive, timely and responsive,” she said.

“Second, we are committed to making all orders more readily accessible on our website. Third, we have voted to reopen our administrative conferences. And fourth, we will be announcing the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the issue of recusal and to present us with recommendations.”

She noted, “this initial series of actions is intended to be a first step in making our court more accessible and more accountable to the people of Wisconsin.”

The issue of recusal is heating up because of the blatantly political positions that Protasiewicz took during her unprecedentedly partisan campaign for state Supreme Court last spring. Judicial ethics rules hold that judges are not supposed to publicly prejudge cases that might appear before them on the court. However, Protasiewicz called legislative maps “rigged,” even though there is now a case involving them before the court. She also declared that Act 10 is unconstitutional and repeatedly stated that she supports abortion. The state Supreme Court is supposed to be non-partisan.

The liberal justices have refused to give a reason for Koschnick’s firing, which has drawn bipartisan condemnation.

Dallet then issued a SECOND press release on Friday. This one verbally attacked the chief justice. In it, she wrote that she wanted “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.”

“On May 19, 2023, the chief justice was asked to schedule a conference in August to discuss administrative changes. She declined to do so. On June 23, 2023, that request was reiterated again. The request was again refused,” Dallet wrote.

“This week, we shared with all of our colleagues on the Court a set of proposed changes to our internal operating procedures and Supreme Court rules. In a continued effort to compromise and to respect and accommodate everyone’s calendar, the Chief Justice was asked if there was any date in August when the court could meet. We tried to reach common ground with the Chief Justice. She flatly refused to schedule a court conference for any date in August. There appears to be no interest in reaching compromise,” claimed Dallet.

“Thus, a majority of the court met today, after having given proper notice of the meeting to our colleagues, and with an opportunity for justices to appear in person, by zoom or to vote by email. Some of our colleagues chose not to participate, and instead the Chief Justice has issued a second press release,” she wrote.

“Contrary to the Chief’s assertion, the court has not yet approved a calendar for this term. Any court member can move to hold a meeting, and a majority agreed that a meeting would be held today,” she wrote. “We continue to be willing to work with our colleagues, and I have asked the Chief Justice to put these adopted changes on the agenda for the meeting she has agreed to hold on September 7.”

Dallet continued: “I want to reiterate that it is deeply inappropriate for the Chief Justice to continue to refuse to engage with her colleagues, but instead to publicly litigate these issues. It is not my intention, nor the intention of a majority of my colleagues, to continue to litigate internal issues, through the media.”

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Push Questions About IDs For Illegal Immigrants, Voting

(The Center Square) – Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to calm fears about illegal immigrants getting IDs and voting in the state.

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a hearing Thursday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, some local election clerks and Fond du Lac County’s district attorney.

“We're not trying to get anybody into a bad spot here, or in a corner, or make accusations on that level,” Sen. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, said. “We want our clerks, who are already stressed enough, to know that we are here to be there as an assist to them.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he wants to make sure voters have faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process.

“This is one of the topics that hit our inboxes quite a bit the last three months or so,” Krug added. “We thought it’s pretty important just to vet it out, to get all the information out to the public.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was invited to Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend because commissioners were having a meeting of their own. But that left lawmakers’ questions unanswered.

Wis-DOT Deputy Secretary Kristina Boardman said Wisconsin is known as a strict voter ID state.

“I want to make very clear that Wis-DOT is required to provide free identification cards for U.S. citizens that request them for the purposes of voting, and that to be eligible for that free identification card one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 17 years of age,” Boardman said. “Wis-DOT staff do not determine voter eligibility or register anyone to vote. Someone who has a Wisconsin ID or a driver's license is eligible to register to vote online, and that information will be confirmed with Wisconsin DMV systems to ensure that the information entered for voter registration is consistent with the DMV's records

Boardman said in Wisconsin, less than a fraction of one percent of ID requests are fraudulent.

“We put together [a] case activity report, assemble all of the documentation that we have, we have the investigator that had the case pull that together, and we do refer that to law enforcement so that they can take whatever action is appropriate,” Boardman added. “We note what statutes we believe may have been violated. And then it's up to law enforcement to take action.”

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Senate Republicans Override Evers’ Vetoes

(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted to override nine vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers, including the vetoes that scuttled PFAS clean-up money, millions of dollars that were earmarked for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and a plan that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work more independently.

“The legislature has passed hundreds of bills to solve problems facing Wisconsin businesses and families. Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Tuesday. “Overriding the governor’s obstructive vetoes is the last, best way to address these critical issues.”

The override votes came one day after Evers sued the legislature over nearly $200 million that is attached to some of his vetoes.

Most of that money is the $125 million that’s supposed to go toward PFAS clean up in Wisconsin.

“For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history – five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined. The bill that Gov. Evers vetoed (SB 312) would have created a grant program that targets this critical funding to areas of the state most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination while protecting innocent landowners from financial ruin,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said.

Evers has accused the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee of obstructing his plans to clean up Wisconsin’s drinking water, and of delaying his other actions across the state.

LeMahieu said Evers is simply playing the game.

“While Gov. Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on behalf of the people of our state,” LeMahieu added.

Senate Democrats responded with game-playing accusations of their own.

“Coming in to do all these veto overrides was clearly a stunt to try to appeal to voters ahead of the fall election,” Den. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said. “Clearly Republicans were hearing from things in their district and wanted political cover. I don't think they got political cover today. I think what they got was people realizing just how afraid they are.”

But Tuesday’s veto overrides are largely symbolic.

While Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have a veto-proof majority, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly do not.

trump vs biden

Trump Holds Lead Over Biden Heading Toward November

With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump leads in a slew of key battleground states like Arizona (+5.2), Georgia (+4.6), Michigan (+0.8), Nevada (+6.2), North Carolina (+5.4), Pennsylvania (+2.0), and Wisconsin (+0.6).

Other polling has shown Trump with a dominant lead in the Sun Belt while performing less well against Biden in some rust belt swing states.

“As the old saying goes, good gets better and bad gets worse, and it’s clear President Biden is in bad shape right now,” Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. “Five and a half months is an eternity in politics, and there’s theoretically still time to right the ship, but it’s getting late early for the president, especially when Father Time remains undefeated and doubts about his age continue to grow. “

According to the Real Clear Politics’ national polling average, Trump leads Biden 46.1% to 44.9%.

A New York Times poll released this week showed leads for Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania but slightly trailing Biden in Wisconsin, raising concerns among supporters.

Trump’s lead has been in large part fueled by minority voters flocking to his side.

Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted since taking office. While that is not unusual for incumbents, Biden’s approval is lower than recent presidents.

Gallup recently released polling data showing that in the 13th quarter of Biden’s presidency, he averaged a 38.7% approval rating, worse than Trump at the same time in his term.

“None of the other nine presidents elected to their first term since Dwight Eisenhower had a lower 13th-quarter average than Biden,” Gallup said.

Axios reported this week that Biden and his team think the polls don’t represent Americans’ actual feelings and that the president’s position is strong.

“They're still 50% (well 45%) to win, per betting markets,” pollster Nate Silver wrote on X. “But Biden has been behind Trump in polls for a year now. His approval is in the tank, and voters have been clear they think he's too old. If Trump wins, history will not remember Biden kindly.”

Meanwhile, Trump spends valuable campaign time in a series of court appearances for his myriad of federal prosecution court dates.

“I’m under a gag order,” Trump told reporters after a court appearance Tuesday. “Nobody has actually seen anything like it ... I'm beating him in every poll and I have a gag order, so I think it's totally unconstitutional."

Republicans have blasted Biden for Trump’s prosecution, accusing Biden of using the Justice Department against his political opponent.

“Despite Far Left Democrats’ illegal election interference, President Trump is beating Joe Biden in the polls!” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X Tuesday. “Voters see right through the sham Biden Trials and know President Trump is the best choice for president.”

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