Petition filed on behalf of two Wisconsin voters seeking to stop the Wisconsin Legislature from conducting impeachment proceedings against recently elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz. The petition comes after Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly threatened to impeach Protasiewicz for her refusal to recuse herself from redistricting litigation over the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps, her prior statements regarding unfair maps and her receipt of campaign contributions from the Wisconsin Democratic Party. The petitioners — both of whom cast votes for Protasiewicz in April 2023 — allege that there is no basis to “justify the permanent destruction” of their fundamental right to vote given that “there is no factual finding of any crime or corruption” to justify the impeachment of Protasiewicz under the state constitution. They further note that Wisconsin Supreme Court justices “routinely do not recuse themselves” from cases concerning issues they campaigned on and that “six of the seven Supreme Justices have received contributions during the campaigns from party committees.”
The petitioners assert that if Protasiewicz were impeached, they — along with 1,021,370 Wisconsin voters who cast votes for Protasiewicz — would face “irreparable harm” regarding the “destruction” of their right to vote for “judicial officers through elections.” Finally, the petitioners contend that the potential impeachment of Protasiewicz would “curtail the Court’s constitutionally prescribed role as a separate independent branch of government to adjudicate cases and controversies and say what the Constitution means.” The petitioners ask the Wisconsin Supreme Court to issue an emergency order to prohibit the Legislature from conducting impeachment proceedings. Finally, they ask the state Supreme Court to permanently prevent the Legislature from holding impeachment proceedings unless a majority of the justices rules that “the Wisconsin constitutional standards for impeachment have been met.”
On Sept. 12, Protasiewicz recused herself from the litigation. On Sept. 26, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied the petition.