May 4, 2015

Wisconsin Supreme Court justices vote to replace Abrahamson

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Several members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court wasted little time in moving to elect a new chief justice.

In a letter filed in federal court on Wednesday, an attorney for Justice Shirley Abrahamson said an email ballot was circulated earlier in the day, which resulted in Justice Patience Roggensack being elevated to chief justice. The letter contends that four out of seven justices participated in the vote, while Abrahamson, along with Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Patrick Crooks, objected to the procedure and did not vote.

The balloting took place just hours after state election officials certified the results of the April 7 election, in which 53 percent of those voting approved a state constitutional amendment that changes the process for selecting the chief justice. Under the change, the court will vote on its leadership, instead of having the most senior member fill that role.

Abrahamson, who has served as chief justice for 19 years, sued in federal court to block the amendment. She argues it should not take effect until after her term ends in 2019. A judge declined to block the amendment from taking place though and the case is not scheduled for another hearing in federal court until mid-May.

Uncertainty surrounds leadership for Wisconsin Supreme Court

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

Members of the state Supreme Court now have the power to select their chief justice, but how or when that will happen still remains unknown.

About 53 percent of Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment earlier this month that amendment will have future chief justices elected by a majority of the court, instead of the current process in which the most senior member fills that seat. The state Government Accountability Board certified the results of the April 7 election Wednesday morning.

An ongoing lawsuit from Justice Shirley Abrahamson has thrown confusion over how to proceed though. Abrahamson, who held the title of chief justice when the amendment was approved by voters, has argued that she should retain her leadership role until her current ten year term ends in 2019. She contends it was among the reasons voters reelected her in 2009. However, five of the six other justices on the court have countered that Abrahamson lost her title as soon as the election results were certified.

A federal judge declined to put the amendment on hold while Abrahamson’s lawsuit makes its way through the courts. However, officials with the state Supreme Court have not yet indicated when a vote on a new leader will take place.

Walker not feeling pressure to announce presidential plans

Gov. Scott Walker addresses an NRA convention in Tennessee.

Gov. Scott Walker addresses an NRA convention in Tennessee.

Despite several Republicans announcing they are running for president in 2016, Governor Scott Walker says his attention remains on other priorities.

Even though several Republicans have already made their plans public, Walker says he’s not feeling any pressure to push up his decision. During a stop in Appleton this week, Walker said “I’m focused on the state budget. I won’t make any decision until after the budget is complete.”
That may not happen until the end of June.

While he’s not an announced candidate, the governor hs continued to travel the country to speak with conservatives. He said he’s been getting good feedback on his message during those trips and has found that “certainly people want leaders who both fight and win for hard-working taxpayers.”

The governor is on the road again this weekend, with several stops planned in Iowa.

Scott Walker fields Earth Day question on climate change views (AUDIO)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

He famously punted when asked for his views on evolution during a visit to the UK in February. And on Earth Day, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stopped well short of answering whether or not he believes in man-made climate change.

“I believe that the government needs to make sure that we balance between a sustainable economy and a sustainable environment, and that’s the focus I’ve put on is trying to find way to balance both those,” Walker said in response to a reporter’s question during a stop in Appleton on Wednesday.

AUDIO: Governor Scott Walker (:3o)

“I’m going to talk about things that we can do that both sustain the environment here, that allow us to have a healthy and vibrant environment at the same time we’re able to sustain economy, and I think there’s got to be a positive balance, and I think that’s where the debate in this state and this country should be. How do you do both?”

Walker, who was in Appleton to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a local business, has had limited interaction with reporters in Wisconsin of late.

Walker has had a busy travel schedule as he contemplates making an official announcement that he’s running for president. The Republican Governor, recently back from leading a state trade mission to Germany, met privately with Republican state legislators in Des Moines on Tuesday. Early Iowa caucus polls show Walker leading the large field of potential Republican candidates.

Strobel sworn in to Wisconsin Senate

Duey Stroebel (Photo: Stroebel for Senate)

Duey Stroebel (Photo: Stroebel for Senate)

The Wisconsin state Senate’s newest member is a conservative who says he’s ready to work on key Republican issues.

Duey Stroebel won a special election for the 20th District seat triggered by the election of former Senator Glenn Grothman to Congress last fall. He was sworn in on Tuesday.

The Cedarburg lawmaker, who served previously in the Assembly and who was defeated in the Republican primary for the House seat which Grothman later won, said he wants to see the prevailing wage completely repealed.

“The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance – and I believe conservatively – says out of the blocks the state of Wisconsin will save $200 to $300 million every year,” if prevailing wage is repealed.

Strobel holds two degrees from the U-W Madison and said he loves the U-W System but supports proposed cuts to it which are contained in Governor Scott Walker’s budget.

“I’ll tell you what, there is some fat there,” Stroebel said. “When you look at their administration and the growth of it relative to other factors, i.e. spending, i.e. student enrollment, that is on a whole different curve that needs to be bent.”