The Way I See It!

I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.

Chief Justice Abrahamson

Court, Wisconsin

From Media Trackers


Chief Justice Abrahamson’s Stormy History on the Court


In the last week the media focused attention on a heated conversation between Justice David Prosser and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson that happened in a private meeting of the justices.  The media has focused on this sideshow in a last ditch attempt to derail the campaign of incumbent David Prosser.  However, the media is largely downplaying or ignoring the background context: The long-standing reputation that arch liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has for causing rancor and political division on the state’s highest court.


Indeed, when the court was split by animosity more than 10 years ago, Abrahamson was at the center of the hostility, while Prosser was largely silent.


For the media to paint Prosser as somehow responsible for the animosity on the court – and for the media to act as if such rancor on the court is new, surprising, Prosser’s fault, or growing – ignores more than a decade of news articles chronicling numerous justices’ problems (on both sides of the political aisle) with Abrahamson’s repeated difficult and divisive behavior as chief justice.  It dates back decades and has touched many justices, not just Prosser.


Old news articles describe Abrahamson’s long history of feuding on the court.  For example, the Wausau Daily Herald newspaper reported in 1999 that three Justices – Pat Crooks, William Bablitch and Jon Wilcox – were involved in seeking support for Sharren Rose, who was challenging Abrahamson.


Bablitch, like Abrahamson, was characterized as a political liberal.  Justice Donald Steinmetz was quoted in that article as saying that Abrahamson shut other justices out of decision-making.


That same year, the Capital Times newspaper reported that rancor on the court was nothing new.  A columnist for the newspaper quoted another columnist’s article from 1987 that had stated how “the justices have become involved in personality conflicts and name calling.  The articles place much of the blame on Justice Shirley Abrahamson” who was described as “belittling other judges’ ideas and legal theories.”


In 1999, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Justices Bablitch and Crooks met with the newspaper’s editorial board and said they were thinking of resigning because of the “way Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is running the court.”  They complained that Abrahamson was “abusing her position by micromanaging the court system, making unilateral decisions on administrative matters that should come to the full court, and jeopardizing the court’s neutrality by awarding grants to groups with lobbyists and social agendas.”


One matter of dispute involved Abrahamson’s usage of the Supreme Court chambers for aerobics class.  Other justices felt using the courtroom as basically a gymnasium was demeaning to the court.


The Wausau Daily Herald reported in 1999 that four justices – not Prosser – were accusing Abrahamson of “overstepping the bounds of her authority because she approved nearly $1.7 million in grants to groups without the court’s consent.”


The news archives are replete with stories about the division on the court; Prosser is not mentioned in almost all of the stories on feuding. The Wausau Daily Herald reported in 1999 that Bablitch, Crooks, Wilcox, and Steinmetz accused Abrahamson of having “made administrative decisions that should have come to the full court.”


It seems that a fair and contextual review of the Supreme Court’s history shows that it is Abrahamson who has the difficult personality, not Prosser.


In July 2010, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute noted the following in an article about divisions on the Court:


“Bablitch, himself far from conservative, points to a long history of conflicts.  Way back in the mid-1980s, the Milwaukee Journal quoted an unnamed justice as saying Abrahamson gave colleagues the finger in conference and ridiculed their opinions in her dissents.  Long before Abrahamson was trading barbs with Prosser and Roggensack, she was locked in a public battle with Justice Roland B. Day. …One lawyer who has worked in the court calls her style “toxic” and compared dealing with her to chewing tinfoil. In short, Abrahamson may be brilliant, but her critics say she doesn’t countenance other perspectives or much care about consensus or conciliation.”


As the Wall Street Journal noted in an article this week on the race, “The current campaign to knock out Justice Prosser got a boost from Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, a liberal and frequent ally of Justice Abrahamson on the bench, who memorialized in email a private tiff between Justices Prosser and Abrahamson, including intemperate language from Justice Prosser.  The email leak was no coincidence, comrade.”






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