Judge Maryann Sumi's husband, Carl Sinderbrand, pens an impassioned op ed in today's WI State Journal. It is intended to quell the furor over the judge's decision to hold up enactment of the state collective bargaining legislation before it even becomes law.
Some of that furor, apparently has crossed the line into intemperance (although despite the Isthmus headline, no death threats). I hereby issue the Blaska's Blog Writ of Denunciation, routine version.
Much of the frustration is fueled by disclosures that Mr. Sumi donated to Democrats in the last election, including their nominee for governor and, very strategically, to three out-state senators in swing districts -- Wirch, Hansen, and Holperin.
Mr. Sinderbrand attempts to absolve his son of rampant unionism but leaves unmentioned the unflattering picture of Governor Walker that adorned the lad's Facebook page. In any event, the Blaska Policy Research Center and Experimental Work Farm (BPRCEWF for short, pronounced "Bipper-Cewf"), accepts the principle that the sins of the son and husband shall not be visited upon the mother.
But let us also acknowledge that the last impartial judge in America probably retired sometime around the time Beaver Cleaver's voice changed. Attorneys shop judges for a reason.
Judge Sumi ruled that the state Open Meetings Law, which specifically exempts the legislature, trumps the legislature's own procedures. That a bill should be halted in the courts before it becomes law is unprecedented. (Marquette U. law prof Rick Esenberg talks about that here.)
We are now into Day 40 of the Sumi Slowdown. The more conspiratorially minded among us think the Kloppenburg recount, which could last well past its May 9 due date due to protracted court challenges, is part of the grand scheme to run out the clock in order to deadlock the court at a 3-3 liberal-conservative split past Justice Prosser's pending August 1 swear-in date, thus upholding any lower court ruling adverse to the Republican administration.
Sidestepping the liberal Dane County judiciary
But here is what really puts the gripe into the Squire's morning grapefruit juice:
That the state legislative process should be subject to a single circuit judge sitting in ultra-Leftist Dane County! That is just run-up-and-down-the-hallway insane!
The rationale, I suppose, is that the State Capitol physically rests on Dane County soil, therefore, the Dane County courts have jurisdiction. The practical reality is that laws enacted by representatives of the people from throughout the state -- from places like Ozaukee, Walworth, and St. Croix counties -- are subjected to a judiciary elected by the most liberal electorate in the state. A county where the local Democrats are the centrists! Where Mark Pocan is a middle of the roader!
In the 2010 gubernatorial election, heavy-voting Dane County handed Democrat Tom Barrett his largest percentage, 68% to 31% over Republican Scott Walker, outside of little-populated Menomonee County. Kloppenburg trounced Prosser with 73 percent of the vote, more than any other county except light-voting Menominee.
Why should statewide legislation be subjected to judges elected by the fantasy-prone denizens of the fever swamps where Comrade Nichols, Fighting Ed, and Madame Brenda sup?
That is why the Bipper-Cewf proposes the creation of a state-run district along the lines of the federal District of Columbia. Wholly operated by the State of Wisconsin. Laws enacted there would be subjected to a court of appeals appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state senate; either that or elected in a statewide vote.
There is some precedence for this.
The Legislature decided in 2007 that office holders charged with ethics violations should be tried in their home counties. That permitted former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, a Republican, to be retried for misconduct in office in his home county, Waukesha. Something about a jury of one's peers.
Wikipedia tells us James Madison expounded the need for a federal district in his Federalist No. 43, arguing that the national capital needed to be distinct from the states in order to provide for its own maintenance and safety. An attack on the Congress at Philadelphia by a mob of angry soldiers, known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, had emphasized the need for the government to see to its own security.
Siege of the Capitol, anyone? We could forever excuse Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney from acting as "palace guard."
Carving a hole in the donut
What territory should this state district cover?
I propose the entire Capitol Square into the next block. That would, for instance, encompass the Concourse Hotel to the north as well as all three GEF buildings on the east. The district should extend down W. Washington to the Thompson Commerce building, south all the way to Lake Monona to encompass 1 W. Wilson and Monona Terrace (leaving the City-County and Municipal Buildings as the hole in the donut). Other buildings, including Revenue and Transportation, would be incorporated as well.
My immediate goal could be accomplished by just rewriting statutes concerning the judiciary, of course. But what a buzz kill! Imagine all the other benefits that accrue from an independent state-managed district.
For one thing, the hill up East Washington Avenue would be salted in winter. That alone recommends the idea. You're welcome, Rep. Steve Nass.
Local residents could compare first-hand how law is enforced under Havana Paul and a legislative committee headed by, say, State Sen. Glenn Grothman and enforced by Papa Fitzgerald. Palace guard? Why not? Our Uzi-carrying cops will make the Vatican's Swiss Guard look Amish plain, the Navy Seals look like girly men.
The legislature and governor could implement innovative tax policies in the state district -- a mini Singapore! Brochach Irish pub could be open all night. An oasis of capitalism in the midst of East Berlin!
What shall we call this new political entity? The B-Blog wants your ideas. Here's some primer to ignite your thinking powder:
How about the District of Tommy Thompson? Too partisan? How about the District of Ed and Tommy Thompson? Can't forget our libertarian friends.
The MacIver Institute handicaps the K-burg recount: