The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White once described the Roe v. Wade decision as “an exercise of raw judicial power.” This is also an apt description of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s December 22 fiat that the state legislative maps are unconstitutional.
Without question, the Republican-led Wisconsin State Legislature must fight to overturn this purely political decision, leaving no legal, constitutional means unused. But before Republicans can hope to win in the court of law, they need to score some important wins in the court of public opinion.
The vast majority of conservatives in the Badger State are deeply deflated after years of inaction, empty promises and what amounts to cheap lip service by State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and others in leadership when it comes to foundational concerns like election integrity.
The vehicle for Vos and company is the low-hanging election integrity fruit that they could immediately act on, which would surely help revitalize the conservative base and all who want to restore trust in our voting system: Assembly Resolution 18 (AR 18).
Introduced by State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), AR 18 calls for the impeachment and removal of Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC). The resolution lays out a multitude of sins allowed by Wolfe, including illegal ballot drop boxes, Zuckerbucks and ballot harvesting.
Wolfe, who is currently squatting in the administrator role having not received a new nomination or confirmation after completing her term, has not slowed her election interference tactics in the least.
Kirk Bangstad, a Wisconsin Democratic operative who uses his brewing company as a political fundraising front, filed a petition with WEC on December 28 to remove former President Donald J. Trump from the 2024 ballot. Within hours, WEC rejected the petition. Given Wolfe’s known modus operandi of letting petitions by election integrity advocates like Erick Kaardal and Mike Gableman languish for months, this is light speed.
One might think this is good news or a broken clock being right twice a day, but not so. The speed in the rejection was likely in service to Bangstad, not against him. Such a rejection allows him to move quickly to the courts. Wolfe’s standard snail’s pace would have delayed Bangstad from going to the courts. Instead, it’s now full steam ahead.
When corrupt people like Meagan Wolfe are left in positions of power, it allows them to further pervert our elections system. That is what Speaker Robin Vos and company appear content to do. Despite a flurry of weak, illogical and dishonest excuses, there is no downside to passing AR 18.
State Senate President Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) has publicly stated not once, but twice that the senate stands ready to provide the necessary 22 votes to remove Wolfe if only the state assembly—under Vos’ command—will do its job first.
Impeachment is a purely legislative action. Neither Gov. Tony Evers nor the court system can interrupt, overturn or exercise any oversight of this process. Any member of the state legislature who claims otherwise is either unfit for office, a liar or both.
Brandtjen has delivered a beautifully wrapped present to Vos and her counterparts in the state assembly who could make major strides toward restoring election integrity and revitalizing the voting base. Instead of opening it, they are trying to return it without a receipt. It is a confounding and inexcusable reaction, especially given that Republicans have a near super-majority in the state assembly and do have one in the state senate—vote count would not be an issue. In fact, the senate previously had 22 senators vote against Wolfe’s reappointment, which is the same number of votes needed to remove her from office. Once removed, the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization (JCLO) would be free to nominate a solid replacement and the senate could confirm. All of this could be done in a matter of days or less when the legislature returns in January.
Bolstering the conservative base through such bold action provides a necessary and strategic springboard for the work needed to preserve our current legislative maps.
In the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, Justice Jill Karofsky wrote, “We conclude that the current legislative maps contain districts that are not composed of ‘contiguous territory’ and therefore violate the Wisconsin Constitution.” But, funny thing, so did the maps that she and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet declared constitutional just two years ago.
So what changed? The addition of Janet Protasiewicz to the high court, completing what is best described as Wisconsin’s “The View in Black Robes.” The justices cannot point to any substantive change in the law, constitution or composure of the districts to justify their flip-flop. This exposes their blatant legislating from the bench in service to ideological desires rather than upholding the rule of law.
Protasiewicz openly campaigned that she would be a reliable vote for redistricting if elected. She was so blatant that even Vos threatened to impeach the new justice if she failed to recuse herself from the district maps lawsuit. She did not, and like so many times before, Vos was all talk and no action.
Wisconsin is ground zero for the 2024 elections. Vos now has the opportunity to decide if he will be the hero or villain of the election integrity battle that is at the heart of it all.
If he wishes to be the hero, he must take the following key actions:
- Pass AR 18.
- Impeach Protasiewicz.
- Appeal the maps decision to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- Hire top-notch lawyers to replace current subpar legislative counsel.
- Fight like the future is on the line, because it is.
Help make this happen by calling Speaker Vos today at 608-237-9163 and every day until they bring AR 18 to a floor vote. Tell him election integrity starts with removing Wolfe.
Also, call your state representative and State Rep. Dave Steffen, chair of the government accountability and oversight committee where the resolution is languishing, at 608-237-9104. Encourage him to bring it to an immediate floor vote before they recess for the “election season” in late January or early February 2024. Have your friends and family call them, too.
–Joe Giganti hosts The Regular Joe Show heard weekdays from 8-11 a.m. CT. Based in Green Bay, Wis., the show is syndicated throughout the country and provides unapologetic conservative insights into key state and national political and cultural challenges, like these, facing our nation. You can learn more at www.RegJoeShow.com He is also the founder and president of Wisconsin Strong, Inc., a 501c3 educational organization: www.WIStrong.org