Wisconsin Republicans have 'no real case' against state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz: columnist

Wisconsin Republicans have 'no real case' against state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz: columnist
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz, Image via Twitter.

Efforts by Wisconsin Republicans to potentially impeach newly-elected state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz are part of a broader campaign to undermine democracy, The Bulwark's Don Moynihan explains in a Wednesday editorial.

"Fundamentally, state Republicans do not feel they need to respond to majority opinion—most clearly on abortion rights. And they are right, they can get away with being unresponsive—because of the gerrymander," Moynihan writes. "It cements their huge majorities in both houses of the legislature. And this, in turn, makes judicial campaigns more politicized, since the judiciary becomes the only realistic venue where voters can expect a measure of democratic responsiveness. Your only real hope under these conditions is the state Supreme Court. They decide on key issues, like abortion access. And they are the only actor that can fix the source of democratic unresponsiveness: the gerrymander."

Moynihan continues, "HOW BIG OF A DEAL is the gerrymander in Wisconsin? After all, since liberal voters are concentrated in urban areas, isn’t the Republican majority simply a function of geography? This is partly true: Republicans really are advantaged by the geography of the state. But if the gerrymander didn't matter, Republicans would not be fighting so hard to protect maps designed in secret by their political consultants."

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Moynihan contends that the "party that routinely loses statewide elections has a supermajority in both the Assembly and Senate. Even in cases of Democratic wave elections, such as 2018, the outcome barely budges. Indeed, the maps are most effective at putting a floor under Republican losses in election years where they are overwhelmingly rejected by voters."

Moynihan notes, "The problem with gerrymanders is there is no obvious way to fix them. Federal courts might intervene. Justice Anthony Kennedy had signaled for years in Supreme Court rulings that he might be open to overturning gerrymandered maps if someone could come with a credible formula. People did, but the case got turned back anyway. The current Supreme Court is even less amenable, having in 2022 ordered the state supreme court not to impose a slightly less bad version of the 2010 maps after the 2020 Census. The legislature, which benefits from the status quo, won’t solve the problem. The only viable means of reversing an electoral system is to vote in a state supreme court majority that is likely to overturn the map. And now Republicans are taking this off the table."

Moynihan stresses, "WHAT IS GALLING about the whole thing is how much the basic claims against Protasiewicz are a flimsy pretext for the exercise of raw power to protect the gerrymander at all costs. Republicans are making up new standards as they go."

Constitutionally, Moynihan adds, Republicans have "no real case" against Protasiewicz.

READ MORE: Democrats launch '$4 million counteroffensive' against GOP push to oust Wisconsin Supreme Court justice

View Moynihan's column at this link.

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