(Luis Cornelio, Headline USA) Janet Protasiewicz, the newly elected and leftist member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, is facing imminent threats of impeachment after refusing to recuse herself from a contentious gerrymandering case.
The controversy erupted when the leftist majority of the court decided to hear a case against Republican-drawn districts through a method known as “original action,” allowing the case to bypass the state’s trial and appellate courts, the New York Times reported on Oct. 6.
The dissent among the conservative justices regarding the case was clear, with three of them cautioning against it. Republican lawmakers swiftly demanded that Protasiewicz recuse herself, but she firmly rejected these efforts.
“Recusal decisions are controlled by the law,” Protasiewicz claimed in a 47-page decision to remain on the case. “They are not a matter of personal preference. If precedent requires it, I must recuse. But if precedent does not warrant recusal, my oath binds me to participate.”
The call for her recusal had escalated in recent weeks, with Republicans in the state assembly openly threatening impeachment if she didn’t comply with their demands.
Notably, Protasiewicz won a highly contested election in April, where she strongly campaigned against the Republican Party’s agenda, particularly highlighting her opposition to gerrymandering, which she referred to as a “rigged” map during her campaign.
Conservative members of the supreme court expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision to accept the case, thereby bypassing the lower courts.
“Four members of this court have chosen to chip away at the public’s faith in the judiciary as an independent, impartial institution, undermine foundational judicial principles such as stare decisis, and cast a hyperpartisan shadow of judicial bias over the decisions of this court,” conservative Justice Annette Ziegler wrote.
“Such shortsighted behavior demonstrates the court majority’s sheer will to expedite a preconceived outcome for a particular constituency. This abandonment of their judicial oath is disappointing,” she added.
If the Wisconsin Assembly proceeds with impeachment, Protasiewicz would be barred from hearing any cases pending a ruling by the state’s Senate. Conviction or acquittal would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
Interestingly, according to the Times, Republicans currently hold precisely the number of seats needed to secure such a majority.