Sunday, April 5, 2015

WI GOP uses law to target, humiliate independent state officers

[Updated] Irked at the independence of elected Wisconsin Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette whom they have failed repeatedly to unseat in statewide elections, Republicans continue to legislate away his authority, cut his budget and move what would be left of his office to an access-restricted State Capitol basement vault.

And a Constitutional amendment to eliminate his Constitutional office is in the works, GOP leaders have said.

These power-mad Wisconsin GOP partisans also have their long knives out for another top statewide elected official as they continue to twist independent state agencies into robotically-right-wing, partisan operations.

Again irked at their repeated inability to defeat Shirley Abrahamson, the incumbent Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Republicans have placed a Constitutional amendment on Tuesday's statewide ballot to change the method of Chief Justice designation.

This is so they can hand the selection annually to the Court's conservative-leaning majority and relegate Abrahamson to the end of the bench.

Wisconsin's Constitution has long-assigned the Chief Justiceship to the Court's most senior member and that means to the indefatigable and undefeatable Abrahamson, the Court's most popular and successful statewide candidate.

Republicans in this state absolutely hate her, and can't stand that part of the Constitution that Abrahamson has accessed fair and square at the ballot box to remain Chief Justice.

Yes, other states have laws that implement different Chief Justice selection methods, as her critics point out.

 So what? Plenty of other states do business differently. Do we automatically adopt all their practices?

OK - - let's start making a first-OWI conviction in Wisconsin a criminal offense - - as it is in all other states.

Then let's adopt that 85-mile-per-hour speed limit they have on forty miles of Texas tollway on Wisconsin's I-94 as our first high-speed designated tollway when the highway is finally widened and spiffed up between Kenosha and Waukesha.

More accidents? On a road you have to pay to drive? Hey, if it's good enough for Texas, bring it here.

And let's get South Carolina's free-to-discriminate-against-gays 'religious freedom' law on our books. Walker can study up on it when he brings his non-campaign presidential campaign back there soon.

The Internet is full of websites that list plenty of things that are legal in some states but are not embedded yet in Wisconsin law - - the legal way to eat fried chicken, own sex toys,  manage women's driving with a flagman in front of the car, have sex with animals, speak in front of corpses, photograph rabbits or sing in public (only on key).

Also regulated in some states: the legal length of bingo games, the maximum weight of a box of candy a man may give a woman, and, unless it has been repealed, the minimum (one) bathings a person must have annually in Kentucky.

Come on Republicans - - get that Xerox machine going, copy and rubber-stamp the legislation. There are more sources of model bills for Wisconsin Republicans out there than ALEC.

What's really going on with the Chief Justice selection amendment?

Republicans are out to knock Shirley Abrahamson down a peg for her liberal beliefs at this stage of her distinguished career because they could not beat her the old-fashioned way - - in an election.

And to make sure they finish the job, regardless of the amendment's outcome Tuesday, Republicans are preparing legislation to place an age limit, of, say 70 or 75 years, on all sitting, elected state judges, and even on Supreme Court Justices.

Abrahamson is 82.

What a coincidence!

And don't honor that service, you misnamed Grand Old Party: disrespect it and use the power of the State Legislature as the cudgel.

If approved, such a mean-spirited and ageist law cloaked in fake cover-their-you-know-whats' concern about judges potential diminished mental capacities would force a strong, strong-willed and legally-serving Chief Justice to resign - - even though the term given to her by voters completely informed about her age and supportive of her incumbency when they re-elected her in 2009 for a term that was set by that election to end in 2019.

How contemptuous of the voters and the entire electoral process, or due process, is that?

What game-playing cowards are these Republicans, trying to achieve through rule changes after the games are underway what they were too weak to accomplish at the ballot box.


Mitch said...

I guess we're supposed to be impressed because Walker is cheap when it comes to spending his own money. But he hasn't exactly been a good steward with the taxpayer's money. When it's a matter of spending state money or refusing Federal money to impress the Republican base in Presidential primaries, the sky's the limit.

Anonymous said...

I think the majority of Wisconsinites are tiring of the repeated Republican power grabs and the treatment directed at their supposed political enemies. They care nothing for the people they harm along the way and it really comes done to that they care nothing for the people of Wisconsin as political ambition resides with their Tea Party donors only!

MAL said...

It's not just Constitutional offices that Republicans target.

Ad law judges are proposed to be moved under the direct authority of the DoA, the GAB is to be dismantled, the DNR, and the University of Wisconsin System. This project of Walker's is to take virtually every arm of state government and rework it to serve the Republican Party, and if it cannot serve the Party, eliminate it. The scope of the project is broader than that, too broad to list here.

We need an effective opposition Party with an innovative, effective communications apparatus and party-building infrastructure.

For example, Photo ID is legal (against the text of the state and U.S. Constitution) alright, where is the infrastructure right now registering and helping people get new IDs in Milwaukee and Racine counties?

Outside of Joe Wineke, no Dems appear to be thinking strategically.