Almost two weeks after voters approved a ballot measure to change the way the Wisconsin Chief Justice is selected, a heated debate continues over Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s legal challenge to the proposed constitutional amendment.
At Huffington Post, a commentary by Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy was headlined, “Walker’s Dark Money Allies Orchestrate Coup of the Courts.” Bottari extensively quoted David Schwartz, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, as saying the legal challenge was an appropriate step to resolve a complicated legal questions.
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Editorial Page Editor David D. Haynes said the April 7th referendum was clearly aimed at demoting the sitting chief justice, and was an example of the kind of “vicious, hardball politics” played in Madison. But the voters have spoken, he said, Chief Justice Abrahamson lost, and there is little common-sense argument to be made in support of her legal challenge.
If upheld, the proposed constitutional amendment would change from seniority governing the determination of who sits as Chief Justice, to all of the members of the high court voting to pick the chief (see Gavel Grab for background). The legal challenge was filed in federal court.