The former chief justice of Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court has decided to drop a lawsuit challenging a decision to remove her from the position.
Justice Shirley Abrahamson filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year, after a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in April changed the process for selecting the chief justice. She held the position at the time based on seniority, but was voted out by the court’s conservative majority under the new process created by the amendment in which members of the court select their own leadership.
Abrahamson argued the change violated her federal civil rights by changing the duties of her office while she was in the midst of her current term. She claimed the amendment set no timeline for making the change, and that she should be allowed to continue serving as chief justice until her term ends in 2019.
A federal district court dismissed the case in July and Abrahamson appealed, but said in a statement released Monday that she’s now dropping the case. “I continue to believe we have a strong case,” Abrahamson said, but added that she has concerns about the time involved in continuing to fight the change. “The question here is remedy. A ruling in my favor…may be a hollow victory. Briefs, arguments, a written judicial decision and further federal review could take a very long time. By that time my 10-year term will be close to ending.”
Abrahamson, one of two liberal-leaning justices on the court, vowed to continue her work to ensure access to the state’s court system and to be a fair and impartial justice. “Each justice is only one voice of seven, and I will continue to be one. But it will not be a timid voice.”