Wisconsin state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed one of his colleagues around the neck prior to the court's recent decision to allow controversial restrictions on unions to take effect, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.
According to the State Journal, Prosser purportedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Bradley with both hands after she asked him to leave her office.
The measure at issue in the alleged altercation denies most Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights. The legislation, which Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker introduced in February of this year, sparked prolonged protests and thrust the Badger State into the national spotlight.
The AP relays background on the Wisconsin state Supreme Court ruling on the measure:
In a 4-3 decision that included a blistering dissent, the court ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority when she declared the law void. She sided with a lawsuit that claimed Republicans didn't provide proper public notice of a meeting that helped get the original legislation approved.
Walker claimed that the law, which also requires public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions, was needed to help address the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall and give local governments enough flexibility on labor costs to deal with deep cuts to state aid. Democrats saw it as an attack on public employee unions, which usually back their party's candidates.
According to the State Journal, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism launched a joint investigation into the altercation between Prosser and Bradley. Sources spoke about the incident with the local outlet on the condition of anonymity.
Prosser said he had nothing to say about the matter on Friday when contacted by the organizations looking into the situation.
Although the race was officially nonpartisan, Democrats tried to link Prosser, a 12-year court veteran and former Republican Assembly speaker, to Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a divisive new law stripping public employees of most of their union rights. Anger over the law gave Kloppenburg's campaign a boost in the weeks leading up to the election, but it wasn't enough to put her over the top.
The law's opponents hoped a Kloppenburg upset would tilt the court to the left and set the stage for the justices to overturn the measure. For his part, Prosser has told The Associated Press that he doesn't necessarily support the law but cautioned his personal feelings don't influence how he rules on cases before the court.
According to the State Journal, details on what exactly happened between Prosser and Bradley remain scarce.