“Rancor flares on the Wisconsin Supreme Court as its new liberal majority moves to limit the chief justice’s power”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Three days after securing a new majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the court’s four liberal justices voted to limit the power of its conservative chief justice — a move the leader called “an attempt to gut” her constitutional authority by “rogue justices.”

In response, a liberal justice pilloried the chief for “litigating” the issue “through media releases.”

The justices voted Friday to change the court’s rules, including the creation of a new committee composed of conservative Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and two justices picked by the court’s liberal majority members.

The liberal justices voted to shift powers from Ziegler to the new committee, in some cases eliminating Ziegler as the sole decisionmaker and instead assigning such jobs to the committee, including appointments to the Wisconsin Judicial College, overseeing the state courts director, picking members of state-level judicial committees and the planning and policy advisory committee, and reviewing the court system’s budget, among other matters.

“This is fundamentally, morally wrong,” conservative state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This is political hacks doing the bidding of the people who bought and paid for their elections. These are not jurists. These are politicians wearing robes.”

Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, a member of the court’s liberal majority, did not return a phone call on Friday from the Journal Sentinel. In a statement, Dallet said the court’s majority “voted today to advance a number of transparency and accountability measures.”

“First, we have made a series of rules and operating procedures changes to make Court decision-making more inclusive, timely, and responsive. Second, we are committed to making all orders more readily accessible on our website,” she said. “Third, we have voted to re-open our administrative conferences. And fourth, we will be announcing the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the issue of recusal and to present us with recommendations.”

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