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Wisconsin Democratic Party chair voices concerns on democracy, as Republicans threaten to impeach “Judge Janet”



FILE - Newly elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz, during a debate Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The threat of Republicans impeaching a newly-elected state Supreme Court justice has the leader of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair “furious.”

Ben Wikler joined the Democratic Voice podcast with La Crosse County Democratic Party chair William Garcia to voice his concerns over the threat.

“ This is a sitting statewide Supreme Court justice, who won by 11 percent of the points, and they want to overturn this election,” Wikler said of Justice Janet Protasiewicz, who took office in August after winning an April election. “And if they get away with this, it is the beginning of a Pandora’s box, a nightmare across the country. And frankly, it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be some state where Democrats try to pull off the same thing. I hope not.”

The Democratic Voice podcast, hosted by La Crosse County Democratic Party chair William Garcia, puts out new episodes Mondays. Listen here or search “The Democratic Voice, wherever you get podcasts.

Republicans could potentially lose some power in the state if a recent lawsuit is upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that challenges the GOP-drawn voting maps, which are said to be one of the most gerrymandered in the country.

“That fundamental bedrock principle is at stake in this fight,” Wikler said, “and it’s time to stand up for that principle. The idea of our constitution in Wisconsin, if you win an election, legislators cannot impeach you just because they disagree with you. That is what is at stake here.”

Protasiewicz’s election win gives progressives the majority on the court for the first time in 15 years, but impeaching her would split the vote 3-3, stripping away that majority and likely any cases brought to the court that are in any way partisan.

Two arguments Republicans are using to justify impeachment in the state Assembly are that Protasiewicz accepted $10 million in campaign funding from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and that she called the maps “rigged” during a primary debate.

They want Protasiewicz to recuse herself from the case due to those two factors, even though, Wilker pointed out, conservative justices have never had to recuse themselves because of donations for threat of impeachment in similar scenarios.

“ Republicans are trying to invent a standard that they only want to hold progressive justices to in defiance of all the standards that they set for themselves,” Wikler said.

The GOP also changed the recusal rules. And, the ruling body over the state Supreme Court said Protasiewicz’s statements did not break the judicial code of ethics.

Wikler requested that people speak to their legislators on the matter, noting the website DefendJustice.com shows where each one stands in both the Assembly and Senate.

Wikler also noted that one Assembly Republican — Scott Johnson of Fort Atkinson — sided with all Democrats as being against impeaching.

“ There are a lot of Republicans who are not happy about this,” Wikler said. “They’re running scared. They think this is bad. They know that this could lead to a huge backlash against Republicans — it’s frankly already happening.

“And some of them also have some principles. They may disagree with me, probably you, and a lot of other people about almost everything, but we all live in a democracy, where you don’t just overturn an election because you disagree with someone.”

Along with the GOP’s threat to basically undo the election win, Wikler also noted this is just another thing Republicans in Wisconsin test out to push their agenda.

“ It’s always a test,” Wikle said. “You saw what they did with Act 10 and then with Right to Work. They test stuff out in Wisconsin that they then bring to other places. We have one of the harshest voter ID laws, voting restrictions in the country. Then they went around the country and passed similar bills.

“This is a test case for a Republican theory that they can undermine democracy by throwing out judges they don’t like before they rule on anything — just by wielding raw political power in defiance of the constitution and the public.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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  1. Richard Lepsch

    September 11, 2023 at 6:12 am

    Funny…where was your concern for democracy when there was election fraud by the democrats, Where was your concern when Hillary destroyed evidence, where was your concern when Biden was caught taking kickbacks, where was your concern when illegals were breaking the law. Where was your concern as a double system of justice is being applied, where was your concern with a corrupt AG, guess its true what that say about democrat politicians and party heads they rely on the ignorance and stupidity of their supporters and voters….HYPOCRISY IS A DEMOCRAT VALUE.

  2. Bob N

    September 11, 2023 at 7:46 am

    Indignation always means fear among the Democrats. Judge Janet shouldn’t have been popping off on the campaign trail with her fellow liberals. If she won by 11 points, bet she wishes she had campaigned from her basement and said “no comment” more often. Funny to watch.

  3. Kent Porter

    September 11, 2023 at 8:48 am


  4. Tom

    September 11, 2023 at 9:44 am

    She won! But the wrong race. She was campaigning for a Assembly/Senate seat, not a seat on the SC. She must recuse herself from abortion and District Mapping cases.

  5. Muskeg

    September 11, 2023 at 11:41 pm

    Democrats use the terms “democracy” and “democrat” interchangeably.

    If it’s bad for democrats, it’s bad for democracy. Simpletons. I think Pelosi coined the “democracy” schtick.

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