Daily Bread for 4.16.24: An Open Wisconsin Supreme Court Seat in ’25

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be windy with evening showers and a high of 66. Sunrise is 6:09 and sunset 7:39 for 13h 30m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 57.6 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1945, the United States Army liberates Nazi Sonderlager (high security) prisoner-of-war camp Oflag IV-C (better known as Colditz).

Catching up on news from last week, as Henry Redman reports Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley won’t run for re-election in 2025:

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley announced Thursday morning she won’t be running for a fourth 10-year term on the bench. The announcement sets up a race for an open seat on the Court, giving conservatives a better shot at regaining their majority after liberals gained control for the first time in 15 years in 2023. 

The Supreme Court race last year, which was won handily by Justice Janet Protasiewicz over former Justice Dan Kelly, broke national records for campaign spending. In recent years, the Court has been dominated by narrow 4-3 decisions — including cases to affirm President Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020, declare absentee ballot drop boxes illegal and strike down the Republican gerrymander of the state’s political maps. The Court is also expected to soon determine the legality of abortion in the state. 

Bradley won her last re-election campaign by 16 points, yet with the Court’s increasing importance in deciding statewide issues in a state with divided government, the 2025 race is likely to be contentious. Waukesha County Judge Brad Schimel, a former Republican state attorney general, has already announced a run for the seat. 

“From the beginning of my campaign, I made it clear that I’m not just running against one person, I’m running against the Court’s leftist majority,” Schimel said in a statement. “I wish Justice Ann Walsh Bradley well in retirement after decades of public service. I look forward to continuing the fight to bring integrity and respect for the Constitution back to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.” 

It would be surprising if the race didn’t see a couple of candidates from each of the state’s main ideological camps. The most reasonable forecast (and it’s an obvious point) is that an open seat in ’25 will attract as much interest and campaign spending as the race in ’23.

Lawmakers brawl in nation of Georgia’s parliament:

Georgian lawmakers came to blows in parliament as ruling party legislators looked set to advance a controversial bill on “foreign agents” that has been criticized by Western countries and sparked protests at home.

Daily Bread for 1.15.24: Employee’s Complaint against Wisconsin Supreme Court Majority Predictably Dismissed

 Good morning.

Dr. King Day in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 3. Sunrise is 7:22 and sunset 4:46 for 9h 24m 15s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 23.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1943, The Pentagon is dedicated in Arlington County, Virginia.

Readers will recall that after the Wisconsin Supreme Court had a new majority in August, that majority dismissed then-Courts Director Randy Koschnick. The dismal received some news coverage (Journal Sentinel Focuses on a Minor Wisconsin Supreme Court Story), the Court hired a Walker appointee to replace Koschnick (Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Liberal Majority Hires a Walker Appointee), but the conservative Koschnick filed a complaint over his firing nonetheless. 

These months later, one predictably reads that Complaint against Supreme Court liberals over state courts director appointment dismissed:

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission has dismissed complaints filed against the four liberals on the state Supreme Court over their decision to install a new director of state courts when the body’s majority flipped in August. 

The complaints had been filed by Judge Randy Koschnick, the previous director of state courts, who was removed from his post days after Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn into office. Koschnick and the Court’s conservatives speculated that the firing was due to his right-leaning political views. 

The episode marked the beginning of an ugly first few weeks for the Court, with several conservative justices and Koschnick airing their grievances against the newly empowered liberals in the media. 

After Koschnick was removed, the Court installed Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Audrey Skwierawski as the new director of state courts. Koschnick then filed the complaint against Skwierawski and the four justices — Protasiewicz, Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky — alleging she was unable to hold the post because she was still serving as a circuit court judge. He said Skwierawski was unable to accept the position until 2025 because of a state law that prohibits judges from holding nonjudicial offices as long as they are still serving their terms. . 

In a letter to each of the four justices, the commission’s director, Jeremiah Van Hecke, wrote that the commission determined there was no misconduct in the hiring of Skwierawski. In a letter to Skwierawski, Van Hecke wrote that the complaint against her was being dismissed because she resigned as a judge on Dec. 31 and is therefore no longer subject to the commission’s jurisdiction. 

At the time of Koschnick’s dismissal, I wrote that Koscchnick’s replacement, Audrey Skwierawski, was “easily as qualified as Koschnick, and in any event appointee Koschnick wasn’t entitled to permanent public employment.” 

That was, however, only half of the matter. Koschnick (a lawyer and former Jefferson County judge) would have known (as would any other lawyer) that his complaint to the Wisconsin Judicial Commission would be dismissed procedurally the moment after Skwierawski resigned as a judge (which, of course, she would and now has done). 

Koschnick’s complaint was a political, but never a serious legal, grievance.

Whale lifts head out of water, surprises tourists:

Daily Bread for 1.2.24: A List of Top State Government Stories in 2023

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:32 for 9h 07m 15s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 64.1% of its visible disk illuminated. 

On this day in 1777, American forces under the command of George Washington repulse a British attack at the Battle of the Assunpink Creek near Trenton, New Jersey.

  Steven Walters has a list of the Top 10 State Government Stories of 2023. It’s a solid recounting of the biggest state issues of 2023. His Numbers 1 and 2 would appear on any list of major Wisconsin events: 

1. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz not only won a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court, but she won by a landslide in the most expensive ($51 million by candidates and outside groups) judicial race in the nation’s history. Her win gave liberals their first majority on the seven-member court in 12 years.

2. In December, that new Supreme Court majority ruled that Assembly and Senate boundaries Republicans drew in 2021 were unconstitutional. The court gave all sides a Jan. 12 deadline to submit new district lines for November elections and named two experts to advise the justices on next steps. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the ruling would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After his top ten, Walters mentions a few other big stories, and a post-Foxconn future is rightly among them:

Microsoft paid $50 million for 315 acres of Mount Pleasant land owned by Foxconn, officially retiring the 2018 promise by then-President Trump, ex-Gov. Scott Walker and ex-U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan that Foxconn’s investment in Racine County would create a high-tech, “eighth wonder of the world.” Microsoft says two data centers will be built.

FREE WHITEWATER has a category dedicated to the Foxconn debacle. 

In Whitewater (see A Sham News Story on Foxconn) and too many other places, support for the Wisconsin Foxconn project was (and should have been) a sign of dog-crap-quality policymaking. 

This Microbe May Someday Replace Your Steak:

“Someday,” however, is not today.

Daily Bread for 12.29.23: Procedures in the Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling on Gerrymandering

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:29 for 9h 04m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 93.3% of its visible disk illuminated. 

On this day in 1812, the USS Constitution, under the command of Captain William Bainbridge, captures HMS Java off the coast of Brazil after a three-hour battle.

  On Wednesday, FREE WHITEWATER posted on A Story on Federal Review of Wisconsin’s Recent Gerrymandering Case. The Journal Sentinel story described avenues and prospects for federal review of Wisconsin’s high court decision. (See Republicans likely to take Wisconsin gerrymandering case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two other recent stories describe the legal process the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered on redistricting. At the State Journal, Alexander Shur reports Who are the 2 referees the Wisconsin Supreme Court named to review new maps?:

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week ordered parties to a redistricting lawsuit to draw new legislative maps, it also named two referees to evaluate the maps’ adequacy.

The two consultants — University of California, Irvine political science professor Bernard Grofman and Carnegie Mellon University postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Cervas — may not be household names in Wisconsin, but they have played prominent roles in settling map disputes in other states.

In Wisconsin, they’ll weigh in on whether the maps abide by the court’s standard that any new maps contain equally populated districts; be bounded by county, precinct, ward or town lines; include only contiguous territory; be as compact as possible; and comply with federal law.

They’ll also assess whether the maps preserve communities of interest, reduce municipal splits and are drawn so that no party benefits more than the other.

On Tuesday, the consultants sent out a letter to parties in the case specifying how they will evaluate the proposed maps. They called for each party to note themselves when their proposed maps may go up against one of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s proposed metrics, and said they’ll independently verify each claim.

The new maps must be submitted by Jan. 12, and the professors’ evaluations are due by Feb. 1.

Rich Kremer of WPR spoke with Morning Edition about the upcoming legal processes:

AC [Alex Crowe of Morning Edition]: There’s going to be a big fight now over drawing some new maps. With this ruling, are we going to get new maps right away before the election in 2024? What does that process look like?

RK [Rich Kremer of WPR]: The court didn’t immediately draw new legislative districts to replace those deemed unconstitutional, but like you said, they have to be in place prior to the 2024 elections. Justice Karofsky said she’s hopeful that the GOP-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will agree on new maps.

In the meantime, they’re going to be proceeding toward adopting what they call remedial maps. What that means is in a separate court order, the majority laid out deadlines for maps and they appointed two national experts to oversee the process. Parties in the case have until Jan. 12 to submit remedial maps. These consultants have until Feb. 1 to file a report on the competing proposals.

The majority also said it will consider partisan impact when evaluating the remedial maps. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said in recent months that the U.S. Supreme Court will have the last word on the redistricting litigation in Wisconsin. This week, he said the Legislature will pursue all federal issues arising out of the case. 

And so, and so — there are state processes certain to take place, and federal litigation likely to take place. 

Perseverance Rover Zooms in on Ancient Mars River:

After 1,000 Martian days of exploration, NASA’s Perseverance rover is studying rocks that show several eras in the history of a river delta billions of years old. Scientists are investigating this region of Mars, known as Jezero Crater, to see if they can find evidence of ancient life recorded in the rocks. Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley provides a guided tour of a richly detailed panorama of the rover’s location in November 2023, taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument.

Composed of 993 individual images and 2.38 billion pixels, this 360-degree mosaic looks in all directions from a location the rover science team calls “Airey Hill.” Portions of the rover itself are visible in the scene, appearing more distorted toward the edges as a result of the image processing.

A color enhancement applied to the image increases contrast and accentuates color differences. By approximating what the scene would look like under Earth-like lighting conditions, the adjustment allows mission scientists to use their everyday experience to interpret the landscape. The view on Mars would be darker and more reddish. The panorama can be explored and downloaded at:

Daily Bread for 12.27.23: A Story on Federal Review of Wisconsin’s Recent Gerrymandering Case

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 41. Sunrise is 7:24 and sunset 4:27 for 9h 03m 09s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 99.7% of its visible disk illuminated. 

On this day in 1929, Soviet General Secretary Stalin orders the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class” leading to a Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, or executions of millions of kulaks (prosperous peasants) and their families. 

  Jessie Opoien and Molly Beck report in a general readership story that Republicans likely to take Wisconsin gerrymandering case back to the U.S. Supreme Court:

In order to get the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case, the Legislature and its allies will need to make the argument that there was a violation of federal law. That’s because, explained Rob Yablon, University of Wisconsin Law School professor and co-director of the State Democracy Research Initiative, the core legal claim in the case — contiguity — is a matter of state law.

The case brought to the court argued the maps violate Wisconsin’s Constitution because some legislative districts include pieces of land that are not connected.

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has the last word on state law questions,” Yablon said.

A request for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a state Supreme Court decision (or a federal appeals court decision) is known as a petition for certiorari, or cert petition. Under U.S. Supreme Court rules, four of nine justices must vote to accept such a case.

“(The majority) did a really intentional job of sticking to very narrow state constitutional issues, which has the effect of insulating a lot of the decision from U.S. Supreme Court review,” said Daniel Suhr, a Republican attorney who served in former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. “When a case is decided on only state constitutional grounds, there’s not a U.S. constitutional hook for the Supreme Court to rely on in intervening.”

In their story, Opoien and Beck consider two principal arguments for federal intervention (Protasiewicz’s participation in the Wisconsin decision and if any new maps have an unlawful racial bias) but report through interviewed experts that both lines of argument have uncertain prospects. 

In any event, while it’s four to take the case, it’s five to overturn on federal grounds.

What ChatGPT is and what it’s not: A three-minute guide:

Daily Bread for 8.14.23: Two Wisconsin Congressmen Beg Court on Behalf of Their Donors

Good morning. Monday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 70. Sunrise is 6:00 AM and sunset 7:57 PM for 13h 57m 01s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 3.2% of its visible disk illuminated. The Whitewater School Board’s Policy Review Committee meets at 9 AM. In the afternoon, the…