Members of the state Supreme Court could meet by the end of this month to select a new chief justice, after a federal judge on Tuesday refused to block implementation of a voter-approved state constitutional amendment. The decision means the amendment will be allowed to take effect after the results of the spring election are certified on April 29.
Current Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson filed a lawsuit challenging the amendment approved by voters on April 7. The measure replaces the current system in which the most senior justice fills the leadership position. Under the change, members of the high court will select the chief justice going forward.
Abrahamson’s lawsuit argues the change should not take effect until after her current ten year term ends in 2019, and that the rules should remain as they were when she was last re-elected in 2009. She wanted the court to block the change while her case makes its way through the legal system, but the request was rejected by Judge James Peterson during a hearing on Tuesday.
Abrahamson is viewed as one of the court’s two liberal justices, and the conservative majority is widely expected to select someone else to serve as chief justice. A vote is possible after the election results are certified, but court officials have not yet said when one will be held.