Knodl doubles down on impeachment as GOP ramps up attacks against Justice Protasiewicz

NOW: Knodl doubles down on impeachment as GOP ramps up attacks against Justice Protasiewicz

MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- Another Republican lawmaker is floating impeachment proceedings against the newly elected state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz.

Senator Dan Knodl is doubling down on his support for impeachment after he was the first Republican to suggest it when campaigning for the 8th Senate District this spring. It was an election that was significant because it restored Republicans' power to remove government officials, judges, and justices from office after securing a supermajority in the Senate.

"Will see what she [Protasiewicz] does with these suits if they come forward but there's going to be a compelling case that's going to be very concerning if she sits on that court and rules on these things," Knodl said in an interview with CBS 58.

Knodl did not elaborate on what he believes is a "compelling" case but did acknowledge he supports Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) being open to impeachment if Protasiewicz does not recuse herself from hearing cases on the state legislative maps.

Many conservatives have taken issue with Protasiewicz calling the current maps "rigged" and "unfair" and saying she'd "enjoy taking a fresh look" at the state electoral maps, all comments Republicans believe indicates she has prejudged the case.

"If you prejudge any case, common sense would say you take yourself off," Vos told reporters Thursday. "Do what’s right… allow the system to move forward."

The former Milwaukee County Judge never said how she would rule on redistricting challenges. The high court will decide in the coming days whether to accept a pair of lawsuits seeking to redraw the legislative maps ahead of the 2024 election.

Impeaching any official is not an easy task, but Republicans do have enough votes to act. It would require a simple majority in the Assembly to hold a vote to oust Protasiewicz and a two-thirds majority in the Senate to remove her.

The Wisconsin Legislature has only impeached someone once in state history, but never acquitted Judge Levi Hubbel back in 1853.

"Justice Protasiewicz has done absolutely nothing wrong or improper and that would need to be the bar that needs to be met," Democratic Sen. Kelda Roys said. "That's a high constitutional standard to impeach a justice and I think it would be a disaster politically for Republicans to go down that path."

Even if Republicans were to make history by impeaching and convicting a sitting Justice, Gov. Evers has the authority to appoint a replacement.

The talk of removing Protasiewicz comes as liberals respond to Republican recusal motion this week requesting her to step aside from redistricting cases.

Liberal attorneys wrote Republicans are "unhappy with the electoral result" and are trying to "nullify the results and pick their Justices."

Republicans filed the motion last week arguing she prejudged cases and cannot fairly rule on challenges to GOP-favored district lines.

Justices On-going Dispute

Ever since Protasiewicz took office securing the first liberal majority on the court in 15 years, some justices have exchanged barbs with one another over a series of actions made by liberals on the court such as firing the state director of courts and stripping powers away from the chief justice.

This week, conservative Chief Justice Annette Ziegler said she plans to post a job opening for the director of the state court system after liberal justices already filled the position earlier this month.

Ziegler wrote on Monday the actions by liberals over the past month are “nothing short of an unprecedented coup," according to emails obtained by CBS 58.

"My Mental Health initiatives are suffering from your rash decision making," Ziegler said. "I have no confidence in the recent hostile takeover and the chaotic effect it has had on the court, staff, and the overall stable functioning of the courts."

Liberal Justice Rebecca Dallet responded by criticizing Ziegler statements and calling them "deeply inappropriate."

"Whether you like it or not is irrelevant. Your frantic emails and public statements notwithstanding, your power has been limited, in accordance with the constitution," Dallet wrote.


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