We have heard all the comparisons that the Republican Party led by their radical Tea Party Movement make about the President being similar to Hitler. They are usually written off as lunatics, which they are. However, they have also been quietly working behind the scenes to give us an example of what fascism in America may look like. That window has opened quite wide in Wisconsin.
For a little background. In Wisconsin, Justices for the State Supreme Court are elected. The Chief Justice is not appointed, per se, but gains that title by seniority. There have also been laws on the books in Wisconsin that explicitly defines when a jurist must recuse himself/herself from a case. One example is when a group contributes to the campaign of the jurist, and a case involving that group comes before the court. The jurist must be recused and not involved in the case.
This has led Wisconsin in becoming known for its fairness and jurisprudence. Keeping potential conflicts of interest away from the courts has served Wisconsin extremely well in the past. But, all that is changing with Governor Scott Walker.
As you may know, there has been an ongoing investigation into Scott Walkers campaign to fight off his recall a few years ago. The complaint is that his campaign and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), among others directly coordinated in the campaign. That is a violation of the law, even for conservatives.
There has been a case working its way through the courts that would stop the investigation. If Walker’s campaign and these groups did violate the law, that wouldn’t make Walker’s presidential run very effective. The case will come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court soon.
So, not wanting to take a chance of the investigation going forward and putting Walker in a bad light, he has quietly worked to change the law about the Supreme Court. And, he is diligently working to make sure that the current Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson is removed as the Chief Justice before the case gets to the court.
How is this possible? One of the first rules for conservatives is to make sure than any referendums or amendment to the constitution is put to the vote during times when no one is paying attention and you can expect low turn-out. For example, most of the state amendments that banned same-sex marriage were passed in off-year elections when turn-out is traditionally low.
These types of laws or changes are never placed on the ballot during a Presidential election because turn-out is high and people actually pay attention. One such period just came and went in Wisconsin. On Tuesday, there was a “spring election ballot.” Walker and his allies added a referendum that changed the way the state’s Supreme Court got its Chief Justice.
This referendum says that the Chief Justice will now have to be voted on by the court members. The court in Wisconsin has shifted to a conservative majority, and Chief Justice Abrahamson is considered as a liberal. This conservative shift is mostly a result of groups like WMC having poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into these elections. That means she is sure to be voted out as Chief Justice. She is suing over this change, and we will have to wait to see what happens on that.
However, not wanting to wait, Walker and his pals are trying to get her off the court completely. She is 81 and they are trying to get a mandatory retirement age of 75 passed. Remember, Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are elected. Abrahamson was just re-elected to another four-year term. Walker doesn’t like that, so he wants her out and is willing to change whatever law he can to ensure it happens.
If you think that is fun, the conservative majority on the court lowered the court’s conflict-of-interest standards. They approved changes in requirements for when justices must “recuse” themselves — that is, decline to participate in a case. Now special interests can appear before judges to whom they’ve made campaign contributions — and they can give money to judges even as those judges are presiding over cases to which the donors are parties.
Which brings up the investigation into Walker’s campaign practices. A majority of the justices received big campaign contributions from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. However, since they changed the rules on conflict-of-interests, they can now sit in and help decide whether or not the investigation can proceed.
If you are looking for the icing on the cake, the conservative majority decided that there will be no oral arguments. The justices will meet and decide in secret. Okay conservatives, how is that for transparency!
In a recent report, the Huffington Post said:
As he ramps up for a potential presidential run in 2016, Walker is using his executive budget to take control of judicial salaries; disband the independent council that advises all branches of state government on court practice and procedure; and weaken the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, the state body charged with investigating judicial ethics violations and recommending discipline.
So, as you can see Scott Walker is laying the ground work for what fascism will look like in America. You have to be honest here. Any executive who erodes the powers of the courts is creating a fascist state. The best way to stay in power and establish your dictatorship is to eliminate the separation of powers in government.
That is exactly what Scott Walker and his cronies are doing in Wisconsin. If there was anyone in this country that can be realistically compared to Hitler, I think Scott Walker is the man. Remember, he wants to be president, and people like the Koch Brothers and WMC are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen.
If his nightmare of being president should ever come true, I hope we will be able to say more than “well, democracy was nice while it lasted.”