Janet Protasiewicz is the newest member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court after she defeated her conservative opponent, Daniel Kelly, in April 2023. The decisive victory for Protasiewicz allowed liberal judges to take control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court at a critical time when important cases regarding abortion rights and gerrymandering are rising up to be heard by the court according to The New York Times.
But Protasiewicz came under fire from the Republican Party as soon as she won the election over comments she made regarding gerrymandering during her campaign and accepted donations from the Democratic party, according to AP News.
Protasiewicz raised approximately $12.3 million dollars from February to mid-March, of which $8.86 million came from the Democratic Party according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Republicans said these donations from the Democratic Party would influence Protaseiwicz’s decisions of the court in favor of the Democrats, according to AP News.
Top 5% admissions bill re-affirms diversity in post-affirmative action eraThis summer’s landmark Supreme Court of the United Staes ruling banning race-conscious affirmative action admission practices in higher education across Read…
Assembly speaker Robin Vos announced Sept. 13 that he had created a panel to investigate the criteria needed to impeach Protasiewicz. The panel will consist of three former Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, who Vos said will not be named until after their work has been concluded. But, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser told AP News that Vos asked him to be on the panel.
Prosser is a rather interesting selection for the panel considering that in 2016 Prosser accepted $25,000 in-kind contributions from the Wisconsin Republican Party, and he personally donated $500 to Daniel Kelly, the conservative judge who ran against Protasiewicz in the 2023 election, according to AP News.
Prosser is guilty of roughly the same charge Republicans are levying against Protasiewicz, and yet Vos has no problem allowing him to sit on the panel that will investigate the criteria for impeaching the newly elected judge.
Republicans are setting forth the argument that since Protasiewicz accepted donations from the Democratic Party and made comments about controversial issues she would likely hear cases about, she cannot rule fairly on redistricting cases that will be heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Vos and the other Republicans who are looking to impeach Protasiewicz are using flawed arguments that, if found as impeachable offenses, would lead to the majority of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices being impeached.
Protasiewicz was not the only justice to accept donations from a political party, as six of the seven of the sitting Supreme Court justices have also accepted donations from a political party at the national, state or county level according to AP News. Both conservative and liberal justices that are currently sitting on the court have made comments and taken stances about major issues.
In fact, one of the current conservative justices, Justice Rebecca Bradley, sent out a flier that featured her holding a shotgun and wearing a hat that promoted the National Rifle Association during her campaign, according to AP News. Clearly Republicans are not worried about donations being sent to candidates or judicial candidates being outspoken about controversial issues while campaigning. If they were concerned about these issues, then they would be pursuing impeachment for the majority of the sitting justices.
Protasiewicz’s win this past April was a decisive one. Her victory secured a liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the first time in 15 years, and it comes at a crucial time, according to Fox 11 News. The court is going to hear cases regarding some controversial and important topics soon, including issues like redistricting and abortion rights.
Republicans aren’t bringing up charges of impeachment against Protasiewicz because they are worried about the integrity of the court. Instead, they are worried about her impeding the progress of the conservative agenda. This is their attempt to prevent a liberal majority in the state’s highest court.
Madison Metropolitan School District finally strikes down suspensionsThe Madison Metropolitan School District is changing the way they handle misbehavior in the classroom. In October 2021, the MMSD Read…
The action of impeachment is supposed to be reserved to remove individuals from office who have committed crimes or abused their power, according to the U.S. Constitution. Protasiewicz has done neither. Republicans are merely impeaching her to protect their redistricting laws and prevent legalization of abortion from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Impeachment was designed as a check and balance to hold judges and Congress members accountable for their crimes or abuses of power. When a political party or individual politicians begin to use this tool to advance their own agenda, it undermines the institutions of our government and sets a dangerous precedent.
This dangerous act further polarizes the two parties. Republicans are creating conflict instead of working toward bettering the nation and representing the interests of Americans.
The impeachment charges brought against Protasiewicz are hollow. Using impeachment as a political weapon will have dire consequences. Protasiewicz is being wrongly singled out and her impeachment will stain the integrity of our Constitution.
Josh Standal ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in history.