LETTER: Politicians trying to erase the rule of law

To the editor:

As a retired lawyer, who practiced for 42 years, I find it frustrating that politicians promote agendas which erase of the rule of law governing our democracy.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos continues to suggest that Justice Janet Protasiewicz may be subjected to impeachment proceedings for stating her views on redistricting and abortion during her successful campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court, which she won by 11 points. This is despite the fact that months ago the Wisconsin Judicial Commission absolved the justice of complaints filed on these very subjects. In fact, Justice Protasiewicz made the complaint decisions public.

In addition, former Justice David Prosser, who supported Daniel Kelly in the election and whose opinion was solicited by Vos, opined that there are no grounds for impeachment of Protasiewicz based on what she has said.

The stake in the heart of the GOP impeachment canard is the United States Supreme Court case, Minnesota Republican Party v. White and the Minnesota Board of Judicial standards, None other than Justice Antonin Scalia, the late dean of the conservative wing of the court, wrote the majority opinion which is exactly on point.

The decision states that the Minnesota judicial code prohibiting candidates from announcing their views on disputed legal or political issues is a violation of the First Amendment as an interference with a candidate’s free speech. Therefore, the views expressed by Justice Protasiewicz are protected speech. Attempting to interfere with her election by impeachment is an unconstitutional transgression.

It is reasonable to believe that the state GOP knows this. Let us consider what could happen if the U.S. Supreme Court validated rule of law is ignored. The Assembly impeaches and the Senate fails to take up the trial leaving the justice in limbo. Arguably, Wisconsin is the most gerrymandered state. The next election cycle goes forward without addressing maps, which could put a minority in the super majority in the legislature allowing the GOP a veto-proof majority. This ignores the Fair Maps resolutions passed by 57 of 72 counties and effectively sidelines the governor.

Say goodbye to democracy in Wisconsin. Justice Protasiewicz is exonerated, but her right to protected speech was violated. Every person, man or woman, who voted for her has had their vote discounted and, therefore, their democratic rights lost.

Stephen Menard, Shawano