Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Accused Of Attacking Each Other Over Anti-Union Bill

wisconsin supreme court hears labour legislation argumentsWisconsin Supreme Court hears arguments on collective bargaining bill, June 6, 2011.

Photo: Associated Press

Wisconsin’s battle over collective bargaining is heating up again, this time over disturbing allegations that conservative Supreme Court Justice David Prosser tried to choke a fellow justice during a debate over Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill. The AP reports that liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has accused Prosser of trying to choke her in her chambers June 13, the day before the court ruled to uphold the law, which sharply curtails collecting bargaining rights for Wisconsin’s public workers.

Prosser denies the allegations. In a statement sent to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Prosser said that Bradley was the one who started the physical altercation by charging at him with fists raised; when he raised his hands to defend himself, his “hands made contact with her neck.”

The Dane County Sheriff and the state judicial commission said Monday that they have opened separate criminal investigations into the “incident.”

Reaction has reignited the partisan debate that has sharply divided Wisconsin since February’s political showdown in Madison. Conservatives have defended Prosser, while liberals note that Prosser has a history of inappropriate behaviour toward his colleagues — in March, he admitted to calling Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson “a total bitch.”

Although the Wisconsin Supreme Court is officially non-partisan, the collective bargaining issue has sharply divided the seven justices. The three liberal justices are still smarting from Prosser’s narrow victory over a little-known liberal challenger in Wisconsin’s contentious Supreme Court race this spring. Prosser won the election by only about 7,000 votes after a statewide recount.

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