Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who mentored Governor Scott Walker when both men served as Republican legislators in the 1990s, has positioned himself as the high court’s primary defender of Walker’s extreme anti-labor and anti–local democracy agenda.
Now, it appears that the justice, whose unstable behavior and violent language has been frequently noted in media reports, is going to even more extreme lengths to protect Walker from legal accountability.
Justice Prosser, who retained his seat on the court only after the recount of results from an April statewide election that saw charges of political abuse and fraud aimed at the justice’s campaign and its political allies, now stands accused of physically attacking a justice who disagreed with his push to make the Supreme Court an amen corner for the governor.
Earlier this month, when Justice Prosser was leading an effort to get the court to clear the way for implementation of Walker’s proposal to strip state, county and municipal employees of collective bargaining rights, he had to wrangle support for an unprecedented reinterpretation of the state’s open meetings law the said rules requiring official transparency and accessibility do not apply to the state legislature. Only by gutting the open meetings law could the court’s conservative majority rule that the legislature’s passage of Walker’s plan—which did not follow open meetings requirements—was legitimate.
The court did just that, issuing a 4-3 ruling on June 14, which gave Walker everything he sought. Justice Prosser’s extended defense of the missteps and misdeeds of the governor’s legislative allies was condemned by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who decried the appearance of “a partisan slant” in the former Republican legislator’s reasoning and suggested that justice Prosser was reaching “unsupported conclusions.”
Chief Justice Abrahamson, the senior jurist on the court, complained that Prosser and the other members of the four-member majority, were “hastily reaching judgment” and rendering a determination that was “disingenuous, based on disinformation,” “lacking a reasoned, transparent analysis” and characterized by “numerous errors of law and fact.”
Justice Anne Walsh Bradley sided with Chief Justice Abrahamson.
Shortly before the court acted, Justice Prosser reportedly went to the office of Justice Bradley.