The Wisconsin State Journal has an article up about people reacting to the Prosser choking incident. For those of you who aren’t obsessively following Wisconsin politics just now, here’s your context: Prosser just narrowly won an election to keep his seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. There were shenanigans involved in the election, but it is highly unlikely that it was actually stolen. Prosser is conservative leaning and known for having a bad temper. Last Friday, reports came out that he choked one of his fellow justices while they were hashing out the decision to overrule a lower court and let the collective bargaining bill go through for publication. This endeared him to me, because, really, how can you not love somebody who gives you presents like that?
Are we all on the same page now? Good. Now let’s ignore that and focus in on this quote in the article:
“If this keeps up, they are going to have to start talking to each other with puppets,” said Donald Downs, a UW-Madison professor of law and political science. “This kind of behavior threatens to undermine the public’s respect for the rule of law.”
I nearly died laughing when I read that. Why? Because I already don’t have any respect for the rule of law in Wisconsin.
The executive branch, most saliently the governor and the Department of Administration, lost my respect when they backed inappropriate legislation, and illegally locked the capitol against the public. The legislative branch lost its authority when it flouted its own rules, passing laws without following correct procedure, meeting debate requirements, or, you know, being consistent about whether or not an item was fiscal just so they could reach quorum. So I’ve been openly disdainful of 2/3 of the state government since before March. I moved out of the capitol when the courts told me to because, at that point, I still respected their authority.
That changed with the ruling on the collective bargaining bill. There is no question that the open meeting law was violated in order to pass it. Throwing out Sumi’s ruling on the grounds that she didn’t have the jurisdiction to make that ruling, effectively arguing that an illegal bill has to be published and put into effect before it can be challenged, single handedly undermines the purpose of the open meetings laws – why follow those rules when the consequences don’t come until after you’ve left with the trophy? Sending the Capitol access case to mediation so the unions could bend over and let the DOA (Department of Administration) off the hook for contempt was a nasty nail in that coffin too, though I’m irrationally rather more pissed at the unions for that one.
So yeah, you guys go ahead and tell the supreme court to behave or else people will lose respect for the rule of law all you like. At this point, the government of Wisconsin is dead to me. I do not respect its authority. I do not acknowledge their right to tell me squat. Any laws or rules I follow these days are a consequence of habit, or because I see that behavior as part of the social contract with my fellow citizens. The government doesn’t enter into it.
I’m not sure what the conditions for restoring its authority will be. I know successfully recalling the Republican Senators, and Walker, is a bare minimum. Since there’s a way inside the system to do that, I’m playing along for now. But if those go well, the people we put in had better get straight to an awful lot of back-tracking. Otherwise…I don’t know. I’m not sure what the right thing to do is when you find yourself living in a non-consensual anarchy. I’ll be pondering this between now and January.