Editorial: Prosser must go

Justice David Prosser is too emotionally troubled to remain on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His behavior on the job would have resulted in dismissal from any ordinary workplace, and the state’s highest court demands a higher – not lower – standard of conduct.

He must resign.

Prosser should have been disqualified from the bench last fall, when he made a campaign promise to support Gov. Scott Walker’s right-wing agenda if voters retained him. It’s unethical and highly unusual for judges to make campaign pledges to uphold laws if they’re elected, especially laws they’ve never seen.

Prosser made good on his promise when he voted to uphold the governor’s controversial union-busting bill earlier this year.

But of even greater concern is Prosser’s temperamental unsuitability for the court. That became evident last fall when it was widely reported he’d called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy her.”

Prosser blamed his behavior on provocation from Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was among those who did voters a disservice by accepting this as a reasonable excuse.

Now Prosser is blaming Bradley for accusations that he put her in a chokehold. He does not deny the charge, but says she brought it on herself by approaching him with her fists in the air. He’s indicated that he grabbed her by the throat to protect himself. Really.

What actually occurred is under investigation by law enforcement, which is a sorry scenario for any state’s supreme court to face. But the most important fact is already known: It is never acceptable to grab someone by the throat.

If any doubt lingered that Prosser has what is known euphemistically as an “anger management” problem, it lifted when he was caught on camera June 30 angrily snatching a microphone from the hand of a Fox 6 news reporter. Even knowing he was on camera, Prosser couldn’t control himself.

Prosser is one of several right-wing leaders in the state, including his fellow conservative Justice Michael Gableman, who are rumored to be gay. The rumors stem mostly from the fact that he’s one of those always-suspect “family values” politicos who never married or had a female companion. The word on Prosser from his years in the Legislature is that everyone assumed he was gay but he never discussed it.

Now there are items on the blogosphere equating Prosser’s presumed sexual orientation with a hatred of women. That stereotype is as ridiculous as the myth that all gay men are pedophiles and dress in drag.  A review of crime statistics will show that straight men, not gay men, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of violence against women in our society.

In fact, among the many victims of Prosser’s temper is openly gay state Sen. Tim Carpenter. Prosser once charged at the Milwaukee Democrat on the floor of the Assembly during a heated debate.

The LGBT community is no more responsible for Prosser than the targets of his anger are for his verbal and physical attacks.  And most of us are among the many voters who’d like him to go.