Earlier this year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees led to Democratic state senators fleeing the state and thousands of protestors and counter-protesters flooding the state capitol in Madison. After Democrats lost the battle things seemed to calm down, but now we're learning that the situation was more out of control than anyone realized.
Over the weekend, anonymous sources started tipping off local papers about a shocking rumor: While arguing about Governor Walker's bill, Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in her chambers. The Associated Press reports that Prosser has denied the claims, saying:
"Once there's a proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear, the anonymous claim made to the media will be proven false. Until then I will refrain from further public comment."
This prompted Bradley to contact the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal and declare that the rumors were true. She says:
"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."
The fight took place on June 13, a day before the state Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that a lower court could not declare the union law void. It's believed that they were arguing over the timing of the ruling, and local law enforcement are investigating the alleged assault.
Discussion of the incident has now devolved into partisan bickering over which justice started it. According to Politico, some Republicans started calling for Bradley to be recalled after sources reported that she "charged [Prosser] with fists raised," leading him to "put his hands in a defensive posture." Moe Lane of RedState writes:
"The left doesn't want to lose one of its judges (which, by the way, groups ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo will absolutely have to call for, if it turns out that Bradley attacked first), and the right doesn't want to have to explain why one of their judges didn't just sit there and let himself get hit by a woman (yes, in fact, that would be an issue)."
Until the investigation is complete, there's no way to know who's telling the truth. What we do know is that conservative and liberal justices have been feuding for months. Prosser admitted to calling Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson "a total bitch" and threatening to destroy her during a meeting in March. The next month, Prosser was narrowly reelected after a contentious campaign.
Bradley says she considered reporting Prosser's verbal attack on Abrahamson to authorities, but decided against it. Now conservatives are questioning why she waited so long to go to law enforcement if Prosser actually did choke her. He's refusing to make any further comments to the press, but Bradley is sticking by her story. She told Milwaukee's Journal Sentinal:
"You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin ... Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren't resolved by competing press releases. I'm confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace."