Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Constitutional amendments that politicize judiciary could pass

It could be up to the people to stop Republicans from changing the judiciary

The proposed constitutional amendment by state Republican lawmakers to limit the age of sitting State Supreme Court justices to 75 is a clear political attack on Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

The liberal justice, at age 81, would have to retire immediately. With her required departure, the other justices would lose their current Chief Justice  and would have to defer to the next senior member on the bench.

That is, unless another constitutional amendment passes allowing justices to select their own leader.

Both measures are clear attempts to limit the voices and powers of the liberal bloc of justices in the state’s highest court. If conservative lawmakers have their way, they will make the court more political in nature -- creating a “mini election” within the confines of the court that would create more instances of infighting for the justices to deal with.

There’s a very real chance both amendments could pass the required two terms of the state legislature. The sizable majorities currently in the legislature, and the unlikely chance that any changes to those numbers could occur (due to questionable redistricting), means that there’s not much stopping these measures from reaching ballot status for Wisconsin voters to vote on.

If that does happen, it will be up to us, the people of Wisconsin, to stop such an egregious and blatantly political moves to change the makeup of the State Supreme Court.

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