Gavel Grab

Judge Denies Immediate Halt to Chief Justice Selection Amendment

U.S. District Judge James Peterson declined on Thursday a request from Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson for a temporary restraining order to block implementation of a change in how the Chief Justice is selected.

Judge Peterson said Tuesday’s vote on a referendum requiring the change will not be certified until April 29, and he will hold a hearing to get the arguments of both sides on April 21, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Chief Justice Abrahamson filed the lawsuit Wednesday to keep her job (see Gavel Grab for background).

If it is not overturned, the constitutional amendment approved by voters is likely to result in the Chief Justice’s demotion. She is part of the court’s liberal minority. The ballot measure was drafted by Republican legislators, and enacted after a $600,000 campaign by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, though critics portrayed it as a partisan power grab to topple the Chief Justice.

At Huffington Post, Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice wrote a commentary, “Building a Court They Can Bend to Their Will: Scott Walker and His Big Business Funders Undermine the Independence of the Wisconsin Judiciary.” The Associated Press reported, “Federal Judge denies Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s push to block amendment.” The Wall Street Journal editorialized in an opinion available through Google searching, “The Monarch of Madison.”

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