Monday, June 27, 2011

Ann Bradley Accuses Fellow Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser Of Choking Her

From Reuters via the Huffington Post:

"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," Bradley told the newspaper.

Prosser said in a statement the allegations "will be proven false" once a "proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear."

Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, quoting anonymous sources, reported Saturday that the argument occurred before the Supreme Court's decision earlier this month upholding Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bill eliminating most of public employees' collective bargaining rights.

The argument allegedly took place in front of several members of the court.

More here.

Nice move for the conservatives.

Impeachment at the state level, just as with the feds, is an inherently political process, but if this turns out to be true, and I bet it is, if only because Prosser is already on the record as having a very bad-blooded relationship with Bradley, I don't see how Wisconsin's GOP dominated legislature can avoid impeaching the guy--it is important to observe that Prossner is a Republican and Bradley is a Democrat. On the other hand, former President Bush will very likely never see prison time for the war crimes he definitely committed, so who knows where this will go? But if Prosser is convicted for assault, and he's not impeached, it's going to make Wisconsin Republicans look even more arrogant, stupid, and insane than they already appear to be.

But looking at the wider picture, this incident very much reminds me of this 1856 incident related below. From Wikipedia:

Representative Preston Brooks, Butler's nephew, was infuriated, intended to challenge Sumner to a duel, and consulted with fellow South Carolina Representative Laurence M. Keitt on dueling etiquette. Keitt told him that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing, and that Sumner was no better than a drunkard, due to the supposedly coarse language he had used during his speech. Brooks concluded in turn that since Sumner was no gentlemen, it would be more appropriate to beat him with his cane.

Two days later, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber: "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks beat Sumner severely on the head before he could reach his feet, using a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Sumner was knocked down and trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to strike Sumner until Sumner ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat the motionless Sumner until his cane broke at which point he left the chamber. Several other Senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who brandished a pistol and shouted, "Let them be!" Keitt was censured for his actions.
So that was a Northern Senator beaten to a pulp, on the fucking Senate floor no less, by a Southern representative who believed he was defending his uncle's honor. But really, it was all about slavery, the most hotly contested issue of the era. Now, this is, of course, a bit different from the situation in Wisconsin. Butler wasn't beaten to a bloody pulp, and the issue was worker rights, instead of slavery, but apart from that, it's exactly the same: a conservative official assaults a liberal official in a formal government space because the former is really really really pissed off by the latter's statements. Apparently, this is all in the American tradition, going back a century and a half.

Now I ask, is there any example, any at all, where the reverse is true, where a liberal official assaults a conservative official because of political differences? I've never heard of such an instance. Further, since the era of the Weather Underground, has there been a single instance of any liberal assaulting any conservative, anywhere in the US, solely for political reasons?

To the best of my knowledge, in the post Vietnam era, liberals do not physically attack conservatives. Ever. But conservatives cannot say the same thing of themselves. Indeed, political violence coming from the right, and aimed at the left, is on the rise. And the latest instance is in a judge's chambers, one of the more sacred spaces in American governance.

What can all this conservative violence mean? My guess is desperation, but conservatives, what with their guns and willingness to allow people to die in the streets and xenophobia, seem to be prone to violence whatever the political situation, so, in the end, it's hard to say.