Paige Roggensack

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Paige Roggensack during arguments before the court in 2020. 

(The Center Square) – The chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is drawing a hard line between political criticism and thuggery. 

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack issued a rare Christmas Day statement in which she decried the threats some of the state’s justices have recently received. 

“I am concerned about recent comments aimed at members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I acknowledge that all members of the public have the constitutional right to speak in criticism of public servants, which certainly includes all justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court,” Roggensack wrote. “However, no justice should be threatened or intimidated based on his or her religious beliefs.  Wisconsin has a long history of protecting the right to freely worship, as well as the right to freely speak.”

While she does not specifically mention them, the statement is clearly a reference to Justice Brian Hagedorn who wrote two recent opinions that refused to overturn Wisconsin’s November election results, as well as Justice Jill Karofsky. 

Hagedorn was elected to the high court as a conservative, but has regularly sided with the court’s liberal justices. 

Hagedorn told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this month he’s received dozens of angry calls, emails, and other messages. The paper reported last week Justices Jill Karofsky and Rebecca Dallet have seen anti-Semetic insults in recent weeks. 

“Threats of actual or proposed violence have no place in public discourse in a democratic society,” Roggensack added. 

She ended her statement with a hope for some civility for the new year. 

“As we are about to begin a new year, let us all refocus on coming together where possible and treating those with whom we disagree with the respect that each of us would like to receive,” she wrote.