Dem 51
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GOP 49
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No Impeachment in Wisconsin... Yet

Republicans threatened to impeach Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz, and then to hold no trial, thus leaving her benched, rather than on the bench. This, in turn, would have left the Court split 3-3 between liberals and conservatives, dramatically increasing the odds of the justices being unable to issue a binding decision on issues like gerrymandering.

Last week, Speaker of the Wisconsin House Robin Vos (R) told reporters that there will be no impeachment... for now. He said that he would be watching to see how Protasiewicz rules on the pending gerrymandering cases, and then he'd decide how to proceed from there.

What is obvious here is that Vos is trying to intimidate Protasiewicz into making the ruling he wants without flexing his political muscle. What is less clear to us is why he changed course. It is true that Vos has been consulting with three former Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, at least two of whom told him there was no basis for impeachment. However, he hardly needed a legal expert to reach that conclusion, and he is pretty clearly not the type of man to have an attack of conscience, or to put the good of democratic institutions over his own partisan goals.

That leaves us with the following three guesses:

  1. Vos has reason to believe that an impeachment would backfire badly on the Republicans, and cost them dearly at the ballot box next year.

  2. Vos has reason to believe that if he tries an impeachment, it could be invalidated by the federal courts.

  3. Vos has reason to believe that Protasiewicz' vote is not going to be decisive, and that the gerrymanders are going to be struck down even without her participation.

We hardly have our finger on the pulse of Wisconsin politics; we're just trying to figure out why someone who was openly plotting anti-democratic shenanigans would all of a sudden straighten up and fly right. What we do know is that if the court, with Protasiewicz, rules as expected, then a lot of Republicans in the state House who are benefiting from gerrymandered districts will be in big trouble, and there will be no good way for Vos to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. (Z)

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