This is one of the weirder stories I’ve seen in a while, and it’s illustrative of how heated Wisconsin politics have become in the wake to the government’s efforts to rein in public employee union privileges: either newly-reelected Justice David Prosser tried to strangle a colleague in her chambers in front of witnesses, or she attacked him and he was defending himself. Byron York has the story(ies):
Over the weekend, a Madison-based liberal journalism group reported that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser “allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week.” Prosser, a conservative, was recently re-elected in a contested election in which he was the target of an intense union-funded effort to defeat him. The argument was said to be about the court’s 4-3 decision allowing the Walker budget law, with its restrictions on organized labor, to go into effect.
The report said details of the incident were “sketchy” and came from three sources who insisted on anonymity, “citing a need to preserve professional relationships.” Neither Prosser nor Bradley commented.
But wait, there’s another version:
As the activist press was running with the story, new evidence emerged in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report to suggest the matter was more complicated than originally reported. Whatever happened, happened during a meeting of six of the court’s seven justices; in other words, there were several witnesses. One witness supported the original accusation. But another witness said that during a heated conversation, Bradley “charged [Prosser] with fists raised” and that Prosser had put out his own hands defensively. According to one of the paper’s sources, Bradley then accused Prosser of choking her, to which another justice reportedly replied, “You were not choked.”
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, first: whatever did happen up there, it’s evident one of the two justices physically attacked the other. This is unacceptable in any case, but particularly from people who are supposed to be sober interpreters of the law and upholders of the rule of law. Whoever is at fault should resign and allow Governor Walker to appoint a replacement. (1)
As much as it is about the conflicting stories of what happened, York’s article also shows how, for the Left and Big Labor, the Battle of Madison is not yet over. Leftist papers and web sites, while piously saying Prosser should not be judged before all the facts were out, were quick to paint him as the aggressor and to point out ways he can be removed from office. (You may recall Prosser’s vote was crucial to upholding the controversial collective bargaining law passed over union screeching a few months ago.) In other words, fearful that the reforms Wisconsin enacted will spread, as they already have in Ohio and Tennessee, the Left is taking any shot it has to overturn election results and quash democratically enacted laws. And when you look at the groups involved and who’s funding them (2), it’s likely there’s coordination at well-beyond the state level.
And we’re going to see many more efforts like this as other states try to right their finances, while public unions and their Democratic allies try to keep the money-train rolling.
(1) Which the Left should not want, since Walker would almost certainly appoint conservative justices. Be careful what you ask for, progressives…
(2) Both the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which broke the original
story rumor, and the Center for American Progress, parent of the web site Think Progress, which described ways to remove Prosser from office, receive money either from George Soros as an individual, or through his Open Society Institute. While not probative, it’s certainly suggestive.
UPDATE: Some good discussions at both Althouse and Legal Insurrection. At the latter, Professor Jacobson points out that only one justice is saying a crime was committed: Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, accusing Justice Prosser. She should either back up her charge with evidence, or retract it and apologize.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)