PROSSER'S PAST PROFFER: Supreme Court should butt out on reapportionment issues | WisCommunity

PROSSER'S PAST PROFFER: Supreme Court should butt out on reapportionment issues

[img_assist|nid=65206|title=Prosser|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=0|height=0]Now that a pair of cases concerning the Republican Party's secret, private reapportionment of Wisconsin legislative districts are nearing action, what happens if Republicans succeed in gaming the system by getting the nominally conservative majority on the state Supreme Court to effectively affirm the GOP's intentions?

Well, not to worry, at least if you take conservatives at their word. I know, that's a stretch, but let's consider the possibiilty anyway.

The court is deciding whether to consider a GOP group's argument that any recall elections of state lawmakers should be conducted using the new maps that Republicans drew up to favor Republicans. These are the maps that, as it turns out, have placed some Wisconsin voters in Africa. [Another case filed by Democrats in federal court seeks to undo the GOP reapportionment altogether.]

A group of Democratic citizens have filed a motion asking that one of the Supreme Court's conservative justices, Michael Gableman, recuse himself from those two cases. It's been revealed that in a previous ethics case filed against him, Gableman received free legal representation from the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich. The firm helped GOP lawmakers draw the legislative maps. Now, truth is, Gableman has not shown much inclination in the past toward recusal and it might very well require his legislatively-driven removal from office, a recall election, or some other unprecedented action to force him to recuse himself this time. "Shame! Shame!" probably won't work.

If Gableman were to sit out the case, however, that would presumably leave a 3-3 tie along political lines among remaining justices. But assuming it did happen, the situation gets even better -- only, however, if you take firebrand Justice David Prosser, another conservative, at his word. I know, I know -- an even bigger leap. But let's spin it out, just for the record and return to March 2011 and a report by Wisconsin Public Radio News. Reporter Gil Halsted quoted the controversial, smoldering Prosser when he spoke at a candidate debate in Waukesha: "Prosser says he's against having the court play any role in redrawing state's voting districts."

That stance could change the political balance in the case to 3-2 (if Prosser sat it out) or 4-2 (if he followed his stated view) in favor of the position held by Democrats. I stress the "could." Naturally, there's no guarantee much less any sign that Prosser will actually act upon his stated belief. Hey, after all, it was just a candidate forum. What?! You want your conservative Supreme Court justices to be consistent and honorable? Don't hold your breath.

ADDENDUM: In a neighboring blog here, Sherman Booth mentions that Prosser is not participating in the redistricting case. Prosser has been sitting out bench duty because of a recent illness and has not joined other justices in hearing oral arguments. However, Prosser has not ruled out participating in cases and it remains possible he still could join in decisions.


January 16, 2012 - 3:40pm