Wisconsin Supreme Court won't hear lawsuit seeking to block impeachment

The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided not to hear a lawsuit seeking to block an attempt to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz, issuing the order without comment.

Associated Press

September 28, 2023

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Seven high-backed leather chairs behind a wood bench with nameplates in front of each sit empty, with another row of high-backed wood and leather chairs in the background, in a room with marble masonry, pillars, a large painting and a U.S. flag.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court's judicial dais sits empty in advance of a hearing on Sept. 7, 2023. On Sept. 26, the high court declined to hear a lawsuit seeking to block the impeachment of Justice Janet Protasiewicz. (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

AP News

By Scott Bauer, AP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit seeking an order blocking any attempt from the state Legislature to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz, a new member of the court whose victory this spring tilted control of the court in favor of liberals.

The court decided Sept. 26 not to hear the lawsuit, issuing the order without comment. Protasiewicz did not participate in the decision.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has raised the possibility of impeaching Protasiewicz if she does not recuse from hearing a pair of redistricting lawsuits. Protasiewicz has not decided whether to recuse, and the court has also not ruled on whether it will hear the cases.

Republicans are worried that the liberal-controlled court will order that GOP-drawn maps that have solidified their majorities over the past 12 years must be redrawn. They contend Protasiewicz can’t fairly hear the cases because she called the maps “rigged” and “unfair” during her campaign.

The lawsuit, filed by former liberal Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns, argued that proceeding with impeachment would violate the constitutional rights of voters who elected Protasiewicz. It also argued that the reasons given by lawmakers for considering impeachment do not meet the constitutional requirements. The Wisconsin Constitution limits impeachment only to those who have engaged in corrupt conduct in office or committed crimes.

The lawsuit asked that the court order the Legislature not to proceed with impeachment against any justices without a ruling by a majority of the court that the constitutional standards for impeachment have been met.

Burns said in a Sept. 28 email that he did not plan to pursue the lawsuit in lower court.

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