We're facing a democracy emergency and we need EVERYONE to take action to protect it.
As you know, the MAGA crowd that dominates our legislature is planning to overturn the April 4 election for Wisconsin Supreme Court that we held just five months ago. Judge Janet Protasiewicz was elected by a landslide. But Speaker Robin Vos threatens to impeach her — before she has heard a single case — if she does not recuse herself from two redistricting cases (Clarke v Wisconsin Election Commission and Wright v Wisconsin Election Commission). Both cases were filed with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) in early August and are now waiting for SCOWIS to decide whether to hear them.
Here's what the Legislative Council says about the grounds to impeach a civil officer of the state: "The Assembly may impeach an elected official by a majority vote based on specific reasons: corrupt conduct in office or for the commission of a crime or misdemeanor" ( Wisconsin Legislative Council, IM-2014-03). Has Justice Protasiewicz committed a crime or misdemeanor? No. In the five or so weeks that she has been a member of the court, has she engaged in corrupt conduct? No. So what the Assembly threatens to do, frankly, is just a display of raw power, an attempt to lock in their control of the legislature and deny the ability of Wisconsin's voters to choose their leaders.
Here's what impeachment will mean. If she is impeached — which requires a vote of 50% in the Assembly — she will be suspended from the court until the Wisconsin Senate acquits her. The GOP holds 65% of the assembly seats, way more than necessary to vote for impeachment. In the Senate, at least two-thirds of the senators would need to vote to convict her. But here too the GOP has enough members to meet that threshold. A conviction would remove her from her seat on the court at which point Governor Evers could appoint someone to fill the vacancy. However, if the Senate delays holding the trial, she would remain on the court while suspended from all Supreme Court duties. While she is suspended, the court will be deadlocked with three liberal members and three right-wing ones. As Philip Bump wryly noted in the Washington Post on September 6, Wisconsin’s gerrymandering rides to the rescue of its gerrymandering.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is mounting a vigorous campaign to persuade assembly representatives to announce opposition to the impeachment and state senators to announce their intention to vote to acquit her should the senate hold a timely trial. And that's where you come in.
This Saturday, September 16, from noon to 3:00pm, canvassing will take place in and around Whitefish Bay (targeting Senator Dan Knodl and Assembly Representative Paul Melotik) and in Wauwatosa (targeting Senator Rob Hutton). Please join one of these canvasses. The goal is to talk directly to voters and to urge them to contact their representative and senator to voice their opposition to impeachment and removal. In addition to canvassing, please call and/or email and/or send mail to both your assembly representative and your state senator. Even if they're Democrats! If you don't know who represents you, you can look up the information and find the contact information for them at legis.wisconsin.gov. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has set up a system that will simplify calling and will offer some instructions on what to say. The website Defend Justice displays each representative and senator's public position on the issue. The site also includes a section on the news, a utility for finding your representative and senator, a petition you should sign, and of course a link to donate.
The MAGAites have concocted their insistence that Protasiewicz recuse herself on the already debunked notion that her view of the current election maps shows that she has prejudged the case and that the money the Democratic Party gave her campaign somehow taints her judgment on the law and the facts of the election map cases. The first complaint about comments Protasiewicz made during the campaign have been litigated in the past. Because she did not announce how she would rule, what she said as her opinion on the matter falls under the category of free speech. Here's the crux: in line with Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion in a case at the US Supreme Court, "judges are entitled to express views on disputed legal issues, whether on the campaign trail or elsewhere, and that this does not preclude them from impartially deciding cases" (Explainer: Judicial Judicial Recusal in Wisconsin and Beyond, Senior Staff Attorney Derek Clinger and Faculty Co-Director Robert Yablon for the State of Democracy Research Institute).
The campaign contribution excuse doesn't hold water either. In a table of the Explainer, Clinger and Yablon demonstrate that Justice Rebecca Bradley's campaign in 2016 took $2.6 million from the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform. The contribution amounted to 46.2% of her total campaign funds. The $9.9 million the Democratic Party contributed to the Protasiewicz campaign accounted for only 19.4% of her funds. Clinger and Yablon note that "members of the court — both conservative and liberal — have likewise been backed by large campaign funders and then participated in cases in which those funders have an interest."
The Explainer goes to great depths, as if it were a brief in a case, citing both federal and state rulings and examples of recusal rules. They examine what judges and justices have done in recusal matters in the last decade. The bottom line is that the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to "adopt a rule requiring judges and justices to recuse from matters involving individuals and entities who financially supported their campaigns. Rather than a rule requiring recusal, Justice Rebecca Bradley stated that the optimal remedy when a judge fails to act with impartiality and integrity is for Wisconsinites to vote them out when they stand for election next." So some elections have consequences, just not this one? Ridiculous!
Watch Rachel Maddow and party chair Ben Wikler discuss the MAGA Republicans' hubris. Wikler announces the campaign to urge voters, who after all elected Protasiewicz by 11 points, to contact the legislature to voice their displeasure. He believes that the effort is already bearing some fruit.
But girding your loins to fight back against impeachment threats isn't the only thing we foot soldiers need to be addressing. Next up on what to do while we're gathering our strength for the 2024 elections: Volunteer for National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 19. As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, both Supermarket Legends and the League of Women Voters will be holding voter registration events.
Supermarket Legends is holding an event at four locations at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2022, voter turnout among young citizens in Wisconsin was outstanding: the best of any state in the country! But we really need to do it again. Meeting with students in their dorms, their union, and their library can reach students who may have been too young to vote in 2020 and 2022 but are now 18+. Getting them registered to vote is the first major step to engaging them for next year's elections. The registration drive will take place in two dorms — Sandburg and Cambridge Commons — as well as the student union and the library. Contact Sue Schneidler (Supermarket Legends) or Norma Gilson (Grassroots North Shore). If you have a preference for a morning shift or an afternoon shift, include that information in your email.
Working with the League of Women Voters on their voter registration activities is another great way to get involved. In conjunction with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission and Vote Riders, the League will have a Mini Carnival and Mock Election. The City of Milwaukee Election Commission will provide voting machines for the mock election. The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County (LWVMC). Milwaukee Public Libraries will have voting trivia questions, swag to give away, and refreshments of attendees. The LWVMC is seeking volunteers for the events at Good Hope Road Library and Mitchell Street Library from 3:30 to 6:30pm. Sign up to volunteer.
The September 10 rally and march to support common sense gun safety legislation — sponsored by Grassroots North Shore, Moms Demand Action, WAVE, and the Brady Center — was terrific. At least two major television news outlets filmed the speeches and talked to participants. At the march on North Avenue, lots of drivers announced their support by honking. And people at the rally filled out more than 150 postcards to send to their legislators in support of several bills that have been proposed. Activity around this issue will continue over the next weeks. I'll have more information for you in the next newsletter. So watch this space.
Thursday, September 14
Ozaukee Dems Gala: No Stopping Us Now, 5:00 - 8:30pm
Shully's, 146 Green Bay Road, Thiensville
Join us at our 5th annual FUNdraiser at Shully’s. Your ticket will include hor devours, dinner, dessert, and entertainment. The guest speakers will inspire, the auction will be good fun, and great people – like you – will make it fun. We hope you’ll attend and bring a friend! Click here for tickets. Price levels: VIP Table Seating $200 each | Table for 8 $800 | Rgular $75 each.
Friday, September 15
WisPolitics luncheon with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, 11:30am - 1:00pm
The Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison
Senator Baldwin will discuss current events and her work in DC on issues ranging from health care to manufacturing. Baldwin has been representing Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate since 2013, and before that she was in the state Assembly and the U.S. House. Read more here. Check-in and lunch begin at 11:30 a.m., the program will start at noon and last approximately 1 hour. WisPolitics.com subscribers and members as well as Madison Club members and their guests receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $24.50 per person. Price for the general public is $29.50 per person. Price includes buffet lunch. Sign up.
Voces de la Frontera's Annual Gala, 5:00pm
Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St, Milwaukee
You’re invited to join Voces de la Frontera's Annual Gala 2023 for a night of culture, celebration, and community. Our gala is Voces’ largest fundraiser of the year where over 500 members, allies, and supporters come together to celebrate our frontline work, powerful alliances, and honor strong grassroots leaders in our movement. This year, our collective power has yielded progressive representation in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, State Assembly, critical services for immigrants and newly arrived asylum seekers, and grassroots leadership development and growth of the Essential Workers Rights Network. With your support, we are able to continue to fund our organizing efforts, year round elections work, and important services to immigrants across Wisconsin. We would be honored if you would join us or sponsor a table. To buy tickets, visit the Voces website. Individual tickets include Gala entrance and meal for one person each. Member tickets $100 | Non-member tickets $120.
Saturday, September 16
Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Forest Home and 43rd street
Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.
Defend Justice Canvassing — Whitefish Bay or Tosa, 12 - 3pm
4845 N Newhall St, Whitefish Bay
J[URGENT] WE NEED YOUR HELP! There is a Republican threat to impeach newly-elected Janet Protasiewicz. This is a desperate, unconstitutional, unprecedented, and obscene power grab to erase the votes of a million Wisconsinites and lock in their gerrymandered maps, the near-total abortion ban, and the plot to overturn the 2024 presidential election. We must make absolutely clear to Robin Vos and Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature that this attempt to nullify the last election is absolutely unacceptable. Join us to mobilize voters to call their Representatives! sign up for Whitefish Bay or sign up for Tosa!
Team VoPro’s first Fall Weekend of Action! 10am - 12pm
We will have our first Voter Protection Weekend of Action event of this fall! We will host a special poll worker recruitment phonebank from 10am-12pm CT and a poll worker info session from 12:30-1pm CT. We would love for you to join us — and bring a friend! You can sign up for our Weekend of Action Phonebank here and our series of Info Sessions here! (Info Sessions generally take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.)
Monday, September 18
Dem Party of Milwaukee County Monthly Meeting, 6:00pm
J&B's Bar and Grill, 5230 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee
Join us for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting, where we discuss party business and hear from Democratic candidates. Food will be provided! Sign up.
Tuesday, September 19
National Voter Registration Day with Supermarket Legends, am and pm shifts
For this voter registration drive, we need volunteers to staff tables in four locations at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Each location will be indoors and have one student at the table. The organization will supply all the materials you will need. To participate email Sue Schneidler and indicate whether you prefer morning, afternoon, or either.
Wednesday, September 20
September DP Oz County meeting, 7:00 - 8:00pm
130 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton
Join us at our Grafton Office as we gather to hear speakers and catch up on the local and state politics influencing Ozaukee County – while spending time with like-minded people. All interested people are encouraged to attend.
Future Voters Fest, 4:30 - 6:00pm
La Plazita Parklet, 16th & Forest Home Ave, Milwaukee
The League of Women Voters, along with with their co-sponsors — Muskego Way Forward, UMOS’ Raices Youth Group, Safe & Sound, Milwaukee Christian Center’s Kosciuszko Youth Group, Boys and Girls Club and Cristo Rey High School Admission Office — are are hosting the Future Voters Fest. In the interest of appealing to youth to better understand the voting process, and by extension their families, this event will provide hands-on, engaging activities to provide youth with the idea that voting is a key responsibility in supporting our democracy. If you want to have a fun and informative place for children to learn about voting you should put this on your calendar. Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions or would like to contribute to the school supplies or giveaways. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FLYER IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH.
Thursday, September 21
Bay Bridge: Investing in Segregated Black Neighborhoods, 6:45 - 8:25pm
This is the 3rd of a 4 part discussion and action series. But each segment is also a stand-alone event. This is an opportunity to hold action oriented conversation around what we can do to desegregate Milwaukee. Author Leah Rothstein will attend our September discussion. You do NOT have to attend all sessions nor do you have to read the book. Please come for important problem solving & opportunity building. Register.
Saturday, September 23
Grassroots Glendale Deep Canvassing, 12pm - 3pm & 3pm - 6pm
6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale
Join Grassroots Glendale to knock doors and talk to voters about the issues that matter most to them! The Dems are undertaking these canvasses now in preparation for next year's super important elections, both state and national. So please sign up!
Riverwest/Harambee Dems Weekend of Action Canvass, 12pm - 3pm & 3pm - 6pm
Art Bar: 722 E Burleigh St, Milwaukee
Weekend of Action Canvass to lay the groundwork for robust and successful elections in 2024. We're talking to people to get a feel for the issues they care about and thus to craft the right messages to reach them and turn them out. Sign up. The event repeats on Sunday, September 24.
Westside MKE Dems September Weekend of Action Canvass, 12pm - 3pm & 3pm - 6pm
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Office: 8405 W Lisbon Ave, Milwaukee
Join us the weekend of September 23rd/24th as we talk to folks in the community about the issues at the front of their minds heading into the pivotal 2024 election cycle. This is a great opportunity for new canvassers to get a feel for knocking doors, so bring a first-time canvasser along with you and get to know your Dem neighbors and the issues they care about! Sign up. The event repeats on Sunday, September 24.
Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Capitol and Teutonia
Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.
UN International Day of Peace 2023: Peace Action WI Teach-In, 7:00pm
Zao Church, 2319 E Kenwood Blvd, Milwaukee and via Zoom
Ray McGovern, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer turned political activist will be joining us for a Hybrid meeting on Zoom. Right now, there is a heightened risk of nuclear war with Russia over NATO expansion and the war in Ukraine, and with China because of continuing military build-up by Japan, South Korea and the US in the Pacific region. Ray will speak on the important issues concerning the war in Ukraine and the many dangers it imposes. A discussion with community participation will follow after Ray McGovern speaks. Here's how to join with Zoom.
SAVE THE DATE
Saturday, September 30
Free Citizenship Clinic, 10:00am - 1:00pm
MATC Education Center at Walker Square, 816 West National Ave, Milwaukee
This clinic will offer Free legal assistance in filing naturalization applications. If you wish to participate, registering before the event is mandatory. Please register only if you believe you may qualify for citizenship. Eligibility requirements can be found in the registration link.
Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Lincoln Memorial and La Fayette Hill
This week we are standing for peace in Ukraine with the Peace in Ukraine Coalition — Ceasefire and Peace Talks Now!; No Nuclear War in Ukraine!; and Diffuse Nuclear War. Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.
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