Wisconsin: “This is what democracy looks like”

“After Wisconsinites vote to amend the state constitution to change how the state supreme court’s chief justice is selected, Shirley Abrahamson sues in federal court to keep her position under the old provision.” Abrahamson’s ten-year term as judge will continue in either case, but under the change just approved by Wisconsin voters, the position of chief judge will no longer be assigned by seniority. [Ann Althouse, whence also the “what democracy looks like” line; & welcome Instapundit readers] More: Rick Esenberg.


  • State supreme court incumbents have a very good chance of being re-elected (spring elections with historically low turn-outs). Combine that with the old seniority rule, you get “power”. That power has led to a very divisive court and the periodic incidents are an embarrassment to what is usually a highly respected institution. This new two year rule should help keep the egos in check. If Shirley loses her lawsuit, I wonder if she’ll take her ball and go homeretire. She is 81.

  • The fact that she sued over this is proof enough that the Hon. Abrahamson should go.

    • Perhaps Judge Abrahamson should check her privilege.

  • She should be thrown out for lack of federal jurisdiction. But just the idea that an office holder thinks they have a right in their office above and beyond the right of the people of the state to amend their own constitution is offensive. The good people of Wisconsin should make Judge Shirley Abrahamson, and the forces of Obamunism that she represents in the state, choke on this argument.

  • In Illinois, I vote against every judge, every time.

    My take is that elected officials will do better if they feel more heat from the electorate.

    My effort is feeble, I’m sure.

    • I do that too for the same reasons. it may be a feeble effort, but that should never stop us.

  • All they care about is power. They should all go.

  • generally changes to how people are elected don’t kick in until the next election. she has a point, and is likely to win.

    • The new law does not change how she is elected; in fact it doesn’t change any election at all. It simply changes the way the Chief Justice is selected which is not the same thing. He suit is just sour grapes, and nothing more substantive than that is involved.

  • –generally changes to how people are elected don’t kick in until the next election.

    But this isn’t about how a judge will be elected, it is about how the Chief will be selected among his/her peers.

    In lieu of seniority (no decision by the judges of the court) there will be a new a periodic decision on who should lead the 9. I can’t imagine that a Federal court really will want to insert itself into a biannual election conducted by 9 people in a room in Madison WI.

  • How does a federal court have subject matter jurisdiction over this issue?

    • I think she took it to federal court for two reasons. 1) she doesn’t believe that state courts will find in her favor (and she’d have to recuse when it gets to her court – and she doesn’t think she’ll be elected by her peers either) and 2) as the State is a party, it can fall into federal jurisdiction.

  • She knew the change in the selection process was on the ballot when she ran for reelection. If she doesn’t want to stay on unless she’s the chief, she should resign.

    • She knew the change in the selection process was on the ballot when she ran for reelection.

      No, actually, she wasn’t the justice up for reelection this year, so that’s not true. (She actually claims in her lawsuit that she would not have run for reelection several years ago if there would have been a question about whether she would continue to be chief justice. Frankly, I suspect she perjured herself by claiming this, but that’s impossible to prove.)

  • […] Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice hates democracy: […]

  • […] Justice Shirley Abrahamson should drop her lawsuit” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial, earlier; AP (federal judge declines to block law’s implementation while suit is […]