Don’t Let Wisconsin Voters Become an Endangered Species!
You and I are facing the loss of our vote. Tuesday, April 7th may be the last time ordinary citizens, like us, get a chance to vote for a Chief Justice for Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. Wisconsin’s governing leadership is seeking to change over 100 years of Wisconsin tradition.
Historically, voters have elected Supreme Court Justices for 10 year terms. The most senior Justice served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A Constitutional Amendment, on the April 7th ballot, would eliminate the selection of the Chief Justice by voters and turn the selection over to as few as 4 Justices.
If passed, the Amendment takes effect immediately, removing the current Chief Justice from their role, leaving the selection to the 7 members of the Court. Voters like you and I will be taken out of the picture.
The proposed Constitutional Amendment is just one example of attempts to separate citizens from their government. Unfortunately, it is not the only attempt to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters, for example:
QUESTION 1: “Election of chief justice. Shall section 4 (2) of article VII of the constitution[*Reprinted at end of article] be amended to direct that a chief justice of the supreme court shall be elected for a two-year term by a majority of the justices then serving on the court?”
- Partisan Redistricting allowed a majority of representatives to be elected by a state-wide minority of Wisconsin voters.
- Lawmakers propose to eliminate the elected positions of State Treasurer, and Secretary of State and to take over the authority of Wisconsin’s elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Photo Voter Identification -The U.S. Supreme Court halted this interference with our right to vote for the 2014 election, but don’t be surprised if this issue resurfaces.
- Changes proposed for local government structures. In a City of Wausau referendum voters are being asked to recommend whether or not to eliminate the current Mayoral form of government and change to a City Administrator form of government. The City Administrator would be appointed by and answer to, a majority of the City Council, six people, and charged with running the city.
These proposals have one thing in common. They all eliminate or reduce citizen’s direct involvement in our local and state governments.
What can each of us do to protect the power of our vote? VOTE! — Every chance you get. Ask “why,” when asked to change time-honored practices affecting your vote. Make sure you know what you’re voting for and why. Keep Wisconsin strong. Keep American Democracy alive in our state.
For more information about these issues, click onthe underlined links within the story.
* Supreme Court: election, chief justice, court system administration. Section 4. [As amended Nov. 1877, April 1889, April 1903 and April 1977]
VII,4(1)(1) The supreme court shall have 7 members who shall be known as justices of the supreme court. Justices shall be elected for 10-year terms of office commencing with the August 1 next succeeding the election. Only one justice may be elected in any year. Any 4 justices shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of the court’s business.
VII,4(2) (2) The justice having been longest a continuous member of said court, or in case 2 or more such justices shall have served for the same length of time, the justice whose term first expires, shall be the chief justice [Emphasis added]. The justice so designated as chief justice may, irrevocably, decline to serve as chief justice or resign as chief justice but continue to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court.
VII,4(3) (3) The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of the judicial system and shall exercise this administrative authority pursuant to procedures adopted by the supreme court. The chief justice may assign any judge of a court of record to aid in the proper disposition of judicial business in any court of record except the supreme court. [1876 J.R. 10, 1877 J.R. 1, 1877 c. 48, vote Nov. 1877; 1887 J.R. 5, 1889 J.R. 3, 1889 c. 22, vote April 1889; 1901 J.R. 8, 1903 J.R. 7, 1903 c. 10, vote April 1903; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977] Voting and Electoral Politics in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Czarnezki. 87 MLR 323.