We’ve spent a lot time covering Wisconsin’s dysfunctional state legislature. But did you know the state’s judicial branch is just as messed up?
We’ve discussed this before, but now there’s more to report. You know any semblance of bipartisan civility has broken down when one justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court calls the chief justice a “bitch” and vows to “destroy” her.
That would be shocking language if it was bandied about in a courthouse in the Bronx, but it’s just another day of state politics in Wisconsin. I’m telling you, we’re going to have to station the USS Inside Voices Please in the Great Lakes to chill this state out…
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this latest story on a people who need to put down the cheese blocks and take a bite out of some wonderful brownies:
As the deeply divided state Supreme Court wrestled over whether to force one member off criminal cases last year, Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy” her.
The incident, revealed in interviews as well as e-mails between justices, shows fractures on the court run even deeper than what has been revealed in public sniping in recent years. Problems got so bad that justices on both sides described the court as dysfunctional, and Prosser and others suggested bringing in a third party for help, e-mails show.
You know what’s kind of awesome? This David Prosser guy didn’t even really back down from his statements when confronted about the emails:
Prosser acknowledged the incident recently and said he thought it was becoming public now in an attempt to hurt him politically. Prosser faces Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election…
“In the context of this, I said, ‘You are a total bitch,’” Prosser said.
“I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted. . . . They (Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.”
I’m not sure if Prosser is right. I mean, I don’t remember seeing Abrahamson at the last Making Others Curse You (MOCU) meeting, but maybe Wisconsin has its own chapter I’m not aware of. Still, you gotta love the guy who, when asked if he called someone a “bitch,” says: no, no, no, I called her a “total” bitch.
And for what it’s worth, you gotta love the “total bitch” who sits on the insult and then (allegedly) unleashes it at the moment when it will do the most possible political damage to her rival. That’s a lady who understands the phrase “it’s business, not personal.”
You can read all about the crazy battles being fought inside the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But you have to ask yourself, when judges in Wisconsin can’t speak to each other with basic civility, what hope do we have for positive discourse in the rest of the country? And where do we get the moral authority to tell other countries how to run their sovereign nations?
Then again, I bet if Tomahawk missiles started falling from the sky, all the various factions in Wisconsin would learn how to play nice in front of the cameras. That strategy might not work on entrenched North African dictators, but I bet squabbling cheeseheads aren’t quite as intractable.
Supreme Court tensions boil over [Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel]