In just three short years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, conservative Justice Michael Gableman managed to embroil himself in two major ethics scandals. The first, which arose before he was even elected to the court, arose out of a false ad Gableman ran during his election campaign claiming that his opponent unleashed a child molester on society. This ad led to an official ethics complaint from the state Judicial Commission, although the ethics case was eventually dropped after Gableman’s six colleagues on the state’s highest court split 3-3 along party lines on whether Gableman committed misconduct.
In order to defend himself against this ethics complaint, Gableman received tens of thousands of dollars in free legal fees from a law firm that frequently litigates in front of his court. Yet Gableman has continued to sit on cases brought by that firm — even casting the deciding vote allowing Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) attack on collective bargaining to go into effect.
In response to these two incidents, a member of the state legislature has now introduced a resolution calling for Gableman to be removed from the bench:
A Democratic state lawmaker circulated a resolution Wednesday calling for the ouster of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman because he presided over cases involving a law firm that had represented him without charging legal fees.
State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, an attorney who is also running for Congress for the district covering the city of Madison, asked her colleagues to sign on to the resolution by Jan. 18. The state constitution allows for the Legislature to remove a judge from office with a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and Assembly.
Although Roys’ resolution is very unlikely to receive the two-thirds majority it requires in the GOP-controlled state legislature, Wisconsin’s voters are not powerless if they agree with Roys that Gableman’s actions go too far. Because Gableman has served more than a year of his current term in elected office, Wisconsin election law allows him to be recalled.