Wednesday, September 6, 2023

If WisGOPs try an illegal impeachment, Dems plan to nuke them. And the Justices should ignore them

Robbin’ Vos and many others that are part of the gerrymandered GOP majority in the State Legislature don’t want to see their free ride to power end. And that’s why they’ve made rumblings about trying to impeach newly-elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz before she even hears a case.

The “reason” and strategy behind Napoleon Vos’s impeachment threat is transparent – to sideline Protasiewicz from being part of a decision on the gerrymandered maps, tying the Supreme Court 3-3 between liberals and conservatives.
If the Assembly were to vote to impeach, Protasiewicz could not perform the duties of her office without being acquitted by the Senate. If she were removed from office Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would appoint a successor to fill the remainder of her 10-year-term.
But if the Senate does nothing (and avoids putting their members under the spotlight ahead of an election year), then Protasiewicz’s status and the liberal majority would theoretically be in limbo unless she resigned her seat.

In the meantime, that stalling maneuver would increase the chances of the GOP’s gerrymander staying in place for the 2024 elections instead of fair maps that would make the Republicans have to work harder to stay in power. So you can see why some hack GOPs would do such a thing.

Which is why it was heartening to see that Wisconsin Dems are preparing to go after any Republican legislators that are even thinking of going along with this garbage.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin and a coalition of unnamed "allied groups" plan to spend at least $4 million on an effort to dissuade Republican lawmakers from initiating impeachment proceedings against the state Supreme Court's newest justice, former Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz.

The possibility of a legislative attempt to remove her from office looms over Protasiewicz as she assumes her duties on the court one month after being sworn in and flipping its ideological majority from politically conservative to politically liberal.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Ben Wikler told reporters during a Tuesday night briefing that the party and other "democracy defending" groups will launch an "intensive, multi-pronged statewide campaign" on Wednesday "to make clear to Wisconsin Republicans that an attempt to impeach Janet Protasiewicz would be an absolute political, moral and constitutional disaster."
Put me in for a quarter on this one, Ben.

That’s part of the response that the VosGOP BS requires, but there are other parts that should happen as well. First of all, a decision by the state’s Judicial Commission may well make any WisGOP impeachment effort ILLEGAL.
A state judiciary disciplinary panel has rejected several complaints lodged against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz that alleged she violated the judicial code of ethics for comments she made during the campaign. It's a setback to Republicans who argued those remarks could warrant impeachment.

Protasiewicz on Tuesday released a letter from the Wisconsin Judicial Commission informing her that “several complaints” regarding comments she had made during the campaign had been dismissed without action….

The commission did not give a reason for why it dismissed the complaints, but [Commission Executive Director Jeremiah] Van Hecke said that it had reviewed her comments, the judicial code of ethics, state Supreme Court rules, and relevant decisions by the state and U.S. supreme courts.

In one of the cases cited, a federal court in Wisconsin ruled there is a distinction between a candidate stating personal views during a campaign and making a pledge, promise or commitment to ruling in a certain way.
Now let’s go to the part of the state constitution that deals with impeachment. It includes the explanation of how Protasiewicz could be sidelined if the Assembly would vote for impeachment.
The court for the trial of impeachments shall be composed of the senate. The assembly shall have the power of impeaching all civil officers of this state for corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors; but a majority of all the members elected shall concur in an impeachment. On the trial of an impeachment against the governor, the lieutenant governor shall not act as a member of the court. No judicial officer shall exercise…office, after hav[ing] been impeached, until…acquittal. (gendered language removed) Before the trial of an impeachment the members of the court shall take an oath or affirmation truly and impartially to try the impeachment according to evidence; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, or removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of honor, profit or trust under the state; but the party impeached shall be liable to indictment, trial and punishment according to law.
But note that the Assembly is only allowed to impeach for “corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors.” What has Protasiewicz done in the one month she has been on the Supreme Court that would qualify under this? SHE HASN’T EVEN HEARD A CASE!

The Judicial Commission’s OK of Janet’s conduct in the campaign pre-empts any charge AssGOPs can give on that one. So unless and until Protasiewicz agrees to hear and decides on a case in a manner where the Assembly can claim she displayed “corrupt conduct”, there is nothing to impeach for.

“But Jake, you know Vos and most of those Republicans will just make up a reason.” , Oh, I get that, but the Judicial Commission decision also clears the way for an immediate lawsuit/injunction against any impeachment attempt, since there is no basis to do so under the law.

To go further, if the majority four liberal justices agree that the Assembly’s reasoning is BS and that the impeachment is illegitimate, who’s going to stop them from proceeding with business as usual, and hearing and deciding cases?

Just stay on the job.

Sure, Wee Wobbin’ Vos and Bigoted Becky Bradley and soon-to-be-ex-Chief Justice Annette Ziegler will stamp their feet and screech, but what can they do about it? NOTHING. Especially if Governor Evers and AG Josh Kaul shrug and say “we’re not getting involved in this.” Which is what they should do, because after all, they might have business before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and getting involved would prejudice future cases. You understand, don’t you Robbin’?

Wait, there is one way Evers should get involved. And it’s by making a simple declaration: “If Republicans are still considering an impeachment of Justice Protasiewicz before the redistricting case is heard and ruled upon, I will veto all significant bills this Legislature may pass. No tax cuts. No Brewers stadium deal. No extra assistance for the 2024 RNC in Milwaukee. NOTHING.” Do you really think the GOP’s paymasters want that outcome going into what portends to be a rough 2024 for the party?

Hey WisGOP, if you want to hit the self-destruct button as a relevant force in state politics, to try to forestall the inevitable overturning of your gerrymandered maps, that’s your call. No matter that you’re still favored under a fair map, if you want to try impeachment, and waste everyone’s time on a fruitless and illegal effort, please proceed.

If you even try it, then Ben Wikler, the Wisconsin Dems, and nationwide donors will nuke all of your members to the point that you will glow for the next 14 months. And don’t kid yourselves, as long as you allow Napoleon Vos (and the money he controls) to run things for your caucus all of you are guilty, and none should be spared.

Justice Protasiewicz and WisDems should realize that WisGOPs count on Dems to try to follow rules to the letter of the law, while GOPs bend those rules every which way to give themselves an advantage. Instead, WisDems and the majority on the Supreme Court should use the power the voters gave them, and don't play the GOP’s sucker’s game. Because while Robbin' Vos can control some people and a lot of dirty donation dollars, he and the rest of the WisGOP Legislature have no real authority to DO anything.

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