By Gretchen Schuldt
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley this week declared that a pending redistricting case is "rigged" while criticizing Justice Janet Protasiewicz for saying the same thing about the state's legislative maps.
Grassl Bradley made the statement while dissenting to a routine scheduling order in Wright v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, one of two redistricting cases before the court. She also took a swipe at the three other less-reactionary justices and said they would rule to give Democrats "an electoral advantage."
Wisconsin is considered one of the most Republican-favoring gerrymandered states in the country.
Here is what Grassl Bradley said in prematurely declaring the result of the case:
The outcome of this original action has been predetermined. Nevertheless, the majority forces the parties to expend considerable resources — including taxpayer money — to respond to a petition everyone knows will be granted by Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet, Jill Karofsky, and Janet Protasiewicz. Despite receiving nearly $10 million from the Democrat Party of Wisconsin and declaring the maps "rigged," Protasiewicz has not recused herself from the case. These four justices will adopt new maps to shift power away from Republicans and bestow an electoral advantage for Democrat candidates, fulfilling one of Protasiewicz's many promises to the principal funder of her campaign.
In Caperton v. Massey, the United States Supreme Court decided due process required a state supreme court justice's recusal from a case because "'the probability of actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmaker is too high to be constitutionally tolerable'" based solely on the justice's receipt of $3 million dollars in campaign contributions from the chairman and principal officer of a party to the action. Consistent with universal judicial ethics, the justice in Caperton had not made any statements during his campaign suggesting he had prejudged the case. This court adopted the Caperton test, holding that a circuit court judge's repeated social media interactions with a litigant in a contested paternity case pending before the judge constituted a due process violation. "To assess whether the probability of actual bias rises to the level of a due process violation, we apply, verbatim, the standard from Caperton."
The court should deny this petition without ordering a response because it relitigates claims this court only recently decided in (Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission I, II, and III - WJI) and asserts claims that could have been brought in 2021. Petitioners, who were intervenor-petitioners in the original Johnson litigation, ask this court to undo its decisions in the Johnson redistricting trilogy and adopt arguments that were already made, considered, and rejected by this court. Only a change in court membership makes a do-over possible, as the litigants recognized by filing this petition three days after Justice Protasiewicz's ceremonial investiture. Entertaining these claims makes a mockery of our justice system, degrades this court as an institution, and showcases that justice is now for sale in Wisconsin. "Rigged" is indeed an apt description — for this case.
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