Chief Justice files lawsuit after voters pass constitutional amendment

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson filed a lawsuit Wednesday in response to a constitutional amendment voted into law Tuesday, which would allow Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to choose who fills the chief justice position.

The federal lawsuit Abrahamson filed in Madison’s U.S. District Court outlines the chief justice of 19 years’ qualms with the amendment, which could unseat her from her position in the face of a voting-in process.

The chief justice position, which is comprised of 10-year terms and can be extended by re-election, is currently filled by the longest-standing justice by default. That method has been in effect for 126 years and would end if the amendment is certified.

Under the amendment, justices would have to decide every two years who they want as chief justice.

Abrahamson is the liberal chief of a largely conservative body of justices.The lawsuit claims the amendment may have been aimed specifically to unseat Abrahamson.

The lawsuit argues the amendment should only be allowed to go into effect after she finishes her term in 2019 because unseating her before the terms of her re-election would be unfair. Abrahamson, in the lawsuit, asks for clarification of whether or not the amendment would be in effect before or after a vacancy becomes available.

The lawsuit drew criticism from many of those in favor of the amendment, who said Abrahamson was attempting to resist the will of voters, according to the Associated Press.

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