How Wisconsin Should Select Its Chief Justice

Early last week I wrote a piece here on Blogging Blue about the proposed state constitutional amendment to change how the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is selected: Selecting A Chief Justice In The State Of Wisconsin.

The referendum is on this Tuesday’s ballot and I suggest that you vote NO on the proposal.

Ok, now let’s continue our discussion.

I am not opposed to changing how the chief justice is selected. I just don’t believe in the change in the proposed amendment. The current amendment puts the selection in the hands of the other supreme court justices…and they get to do it every two years following an election cycle. They essentially get to select their own boss. Currently the chief justice is the longest serving justice on the court…pure longevity.

Now the proponents suggest this improves democracy because the justices will vote for their leader. I say hogwash since it takes that selection one level further from the actual electorate. Now to counter that, a new argument in favor of the amendment was introduced in the past ten days or so. We aren’t really taking the vote away from our citizens because quite frankly the voters probably don’t know they are voting for a chief justice. That they don’t understand that seniority is the determining factor.

Well I’ll probably grant them this one fact. Many voters probably didn’t realize they were returning Justice Abrahamson to chief justice when they re-elected her to the court. And few probably realize that the justice with the next longest time on the court will by default become chief justice when Chief Justice Abrahamson retires as many expect her to do instead of running for re-election.

So, here is how I suggest we amend the constitution instead. One of the seats on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is declared the Chief Justice seat. And whoever is elected to that seat is the Chief Justice. Then the voter will be voting directly for the chief justice…they will know they are voting for the chief justice…and democracy will be better served than via an indirect election.

And if a sitting justice wants to be chief justice? He or she will have to run for the actual seat instead of hoping they can out wait everyone else on the court. And to make it very interesting it would be best if they had to give up their current seat to run!

If the GOP under the dome in Madison are actually trying to increase democracy in Wisconsin (sarcasm), how can they not support this change?


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24 thoughts on “How Wisconsin Should Select Its Chief Justice

  1. To have one person in charge forever, especially the one that causes all the trouble is wrong.

    1. Bob, clearly you don’t understand the State Supreme Court, because justices don’t serve life terms, so the Chief Justice isn’t “in charge forever” as you put it.

      1. Do not understand? What a bunch of dummies I elected a dozen of them Shirley has been on since Lucey appointed her 40 years ago. Eveyrone except Bradley hates her. Dems and Republicans.

        1. “Eveyrone except Bradley hates her. Dems and Republicans.”

          And of course you have not one shred of proof to back that up.

          Getting back to my original point, I’m waiting for you to explain how the Chief Justice is “in charge forever” as you asserted. After all, the Chief Justice is elected to ten year terms just the same as the other justices, and so Wisconsin voters have had ample opportunity to make a change but haven’t done so.

        2. The supposed fix doesn’t guarantee that one person wouldn’t be elected dozens of times over the years to the position of chief justice. It doesn’t prevent that at all. It just takes the voting out of the hands of the electorate…which is something that should never never be done.

  2. I understand Zach and Ed. You will defend the behavior of Bradley and Abrahamson until the end of time because they are liberal. That is your right to do so. However you could at least own up to the fact that if Prosser was the highest ranking member of the supreme court you would be all in favor of a change. But because Abrahamson and then Bradley would be and are the ranking members… Oh no this change is WRONG! Obviously you could not be more transparent. And Ed. YOUR proposed fix is no fix at all.

    1. I didn’t defend anyone in this post John. I am defending your right and my right to vote for the chief justice of our state supreme court…it isn’t a ‘fix’…why are you so eager to give up your rights? And if my change were effected and Justice Prosser ran and was elected chief justice that would be what it is.

  3. No other body that holds any weight chooses their leader based soley on seniority. Not the house, not the senate, not any other elected body. It makes no sense, and it needs to be changed.

    1. a supreme court isn’t your average elected body…it’s role in governance is far different than the legislature.

  4. Reading the Wisconsin Supreme Court results this morning, I fail to follow the logic of the electorate choosing Justice Bradley for a third term, but rejecting the seniority method to determine a Chief Justice.

    One explanation offered was that the current method was not provided in the proposition provided by the Republicans counting on deceiving or confusing the voter. I’m shocked! Republicans guilty of deceit or insufficient information? So what else is new?

  5. Duane12… You fail to see the logic!?!?! Perhaps the electorate saw this change as a needed one… Perhaps they realized, as did most non partisan people, that choosing a leader of an elected body based soley on seniority made NO logical sense.

    Or maybe, like you suggested, Democrat/Liberal voters are too stupid to understand a constitutional change and are easily decieved and confused.

    What a pathetic excuse. Voters voted, the decision has now been made. This reminds me of the gay marriage ammendment that passed with overwhelming majorities at the same time that Doyle was winning reelection by an overwhelming majority. Yet the Dems did not get the blame…

    1. What a bitter response from someone who’s point of view won.

      btw: that was an anti-gay marriage amendment.

      1. Ed, I agree, Duane’s response was bitter. I’m tired of people making excuses for obvious decisions made by the electorate. Bradley won reelection (which isn’t shocking based on her incumbancy). And the SAME people that voted her back into power AGREED with the change to the constitution. Pretty simple and logical explanation. Duane was the one suggesting that voters were deceived and or confused. Which is a rather BITTER and response.

        1. You are a liar, John, and failed to read the link provided or lack the necessary grade school reading skill to understand that Madison Com offered that the Constitutional amendment was “crafted” by Republicans implying being sly or cunning or deceitful. It also noted that the GOP “wording” failed to reveal what the current method is.

          BTW, congratulations are in order to the majority of voters who wisely chose the most qualified and experienced candidate, Justice Bradley. Gerrymandering doesn’t work in state wide elections. Daley was and is a loser.

          1. Congratulations are also in order to the majority of voters who widely choose the most qualified candidate WALKER for governor, gerrymandering doesn’t work in statewide elections!!! See how easy that was Duane.

          2. Seriously. .. Madison. Com…

            That is your source? !?! Yeah they aren’t biased at all towards a liberal point of view. .. HA! Madison. Com you are right liberal views are easily confused I guess by clear plain English. As far as ballot questing I thought this was one of the easier ones to understand.

      2. Everyone who read my post new I was refering to the anti-gay amendment, but thank you for clarifing!

    1. P.s.s. they liberal wackos in this state jabber sued over everything!!! Act 10 shocker they lost, voter ID shocker lost again, changing the constitution in regards to electing supreme court chief justice…. I’m smelling another loss…

      1. A bitter, vindictive winner and you call Duane bitter over losing, pot meet kettle. Bullies, cheaters and abusers of power are often winners, but goodness or correctness or helpful to the majority outcomes, in these situations, are decidedly rare.

        It’ll be interesting to hear from the AG’s office in how they intend to defend the election results in Federal court.

        1. Bitter? Vindictive? Seriously? Duane insinuates that the same voters that approved of Bradley’s new term are easily confused and or easily deceived by the clearly written amendment to the constitution. An ammendment, mind you, that had to pass TWO successive legislatures over multiple years. This is not an issue that came up yesterday. To claim voters were smart enough to reelect Bradley but to stupid to understand what a YES meant on the ammendment is beyond a joke and is insulting to the very voters that he praised moments before.

          I love how liberals will twist every argument and outcome to fit their narrative of the electorate.

  6. I voted “Yes” on the amendment, but in truth I’d have absolutely no problem with your suggestion. I would say that seniority is just a very poor way to determine this.

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