Skip to comments.BREAKING: Federal Judge dismisses Shirley Abrahamsonís civil rights case
Posted on 07/31/2015 4:14:39 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
MADISON, Wis. A federal judge on Friday tossed out former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamsons civil rights lawsuit and declared Wisconsins constitutional amendment that forced Abrahamson out of her long-standing seat of power does indeed pass constitutional muster.
U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson said he wasnt persuaded by Abrahamsons case. His ruling puts to rest the liberal justices claims that the amendment approved by Wisconsin voters in April unfairly led to her ouster as chief justice.
This court has been asked whether the immediate implementation of an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution concerning the structure of its court system offends the United States Constitution. Federal review of the action of a stateacting in its capacity as a sovereign governmentis sharply limited, and the court does not require perfection of expression or purity of motive, Peterson writes in his conclusion. The amendment passes constitutional muster, even if implemented immediately to remove Abrahamson from the position of chief justice.
Peterson ordered the case closed, and entered a judgement in favor of the defendants Abrahamsons fellow Supreme Court justices, the state, and effectively the majority of voters who approved the amendment that changed how Wisconsins Supreme Court chief justice is selected.
Ultimately, it means Chief Justice Patience Roggensack will remain the high courts leader.
Its been a legal sprint for Abrahamson, head of the courts liberal minority, since April 7. Thats when Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing state Supreme Court justices to elect their chief, ending the states 126-year practice of determining the post on seniority alone.
On April 8, Abrahamson filed her civil rights claim, and then twice asked the federal district court to temporarily stop the amendment from being implemented while her civil rights case proceeded. The court twice declined.
In late April, the four conservative members of the seven-person court elected Justice Patience Roggensack as the courts new chief justice.
Roggensack has gone on to do the work she was elected to do such as scheduling meetings and appointing staff positions. That has infuriated Abrahamson.
Peterson, an Obama nominee, in an order filed in June did not accept Abrahamsons claims that she suffered irreparable harm in the chief justice election, or at least he said it would cause Roggensack the same level of harm to be displaced from her new post as chief.
Since that order, Defendant Roggensack has repeatedly violated Wisconsin Supreme Court procedures while purporting to act as chief justice, Abrahamson declared in her appeal for an expedited appeal. The court denied that motion, too.
In his ruling, Peterson notes the bitterness and rancor of a state Supreme Court that has become notorious for the fractiousness of its members.
It is a court marked by a deep philosophical divide that has led to arguments and even physical altercations between justices.
With that history as a backdrop, the state legislature in 2013 started the process of amending the state constitution to change the method of selecting the chief justice, from seniority to election by a majority of the sitting justices, Peterson writes.
Abrahamson and the Wisconsin citizens who signed on as plaintiffs in the suit do not challenge the amendment. They concede, as they must (Petersons phrase), that Wisconsin can change its constitution to determine how a Supreme Court justice is selected.
The plaintiffs only assert that the amendment should be interpreted so that Abrahamson can keep her job until her current term as justice is up in 2019.
Plaintiffs contend that their interpretation is justified not only because it is a sound interpretation of the amendment under Wisconsin law, but because a contrary interpretation would run afoul of the United States Constitution, which protects plaintiffs rights to due process and equal protection, the judge writes.
Their argument is that Wisconsin voters didnt understand what they were voting for, and Abrahamson did not have sufficient notice that her position as chief was on the line, Peterson adds.
The court is not persuaded by plaintiffs case, for reasons explained in this opinion, the ruling states.
Constitutional provisions are drawn with broad strokes, the judge asserts. There is no requirement that a state, in restructuring its government or the powers and duties of its officials by means of a constitutional amendment, do so with super-clarity to protect the interests of the officials or voters whose interests might be impaired.
In short, unless the states actions in this case, the amendment are plainly unconstitutional, Wisconsin has the authority and autonomy to restructure its government without interference from the federal government.
The court concludes that the states new method of selecting its chief justice was effective on April 29, 2015, when the referendum was certified.
Abrahamson could appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but a legal expert with knowledge of the case tells Wisconsin Watchdog that she would need incontrovertible evidence that her constitutional rights were violated.
It was the 7th Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Frank Easterbrook, that ruled conservative targets of the political John Doe investigation could not pursue their civil rights lawsuit in federal court because the investigation and the legal controversies surrounding it were matters for state courts to determine.
HERE COMES THE JUDGEMENT: U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson on Friday dismissed Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamsons civil rights case in which she claimed she was illegally removed from her position as chief justice.
Federal Judge knocks out Abrahamson. Finally.
FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.
She needs to get a real job so Obama will stop importing illegal aliens to do the jobs Americans don’t want to do.
Holy crap this judge was an Obola nominee too.
If she has no power any more, I can see her deciding to retire.
Dear Leader will not be pleased.
She won’t retire. She’ll just continue to obstruct the court.
Their argument is that Wisconsin voters didnt understand what they were voting for
There it is again, rats say voters are stupid.
But..but...it was her personal property, a lifetime sinecure!
Her position was a title of nobility, deserving only of her!
Sorry Shirly, maybe ya can gets Chisholm to intimidate dees G-men for yez, get yer job back.
Well, justice at long last.
HOW SWEET IT IS!!
Wow. A federal judge no less. Siding with the state’s Constitution.
I thought I felt the earth shake a bit.
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