Story Archive

When One Vote Matters

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decided 4-3 to overturn a Court of Appeals verdict, which said police cannot demand to search a private home without a warrant when there on another matter. The deciding vote was cast by Justice Rebecca Bradley, 44, who was appointed by the governor when a Justice died unexpectedly. Bradley cast her vote even though she was appointed after the court heard the case, and she was not present for the arguments. Fellow Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented on the decision, noting that “No precedent appears to exist in the United States Supreme Court or in this court for a new justice who did not participate in oral argument to participate in the case without re-argument.” Bradley said she found “no rule or precedent to prohibit” her from voting in the case. Abrahamson notes the case could well be overturned by federal courts, since the decision acts to “swallow the Fourth Amendment” of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. (RC/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) ...So the shock isn’t so much that a single vote decided the case, but rather that four votes did.
Original Publication Date: 14 February 2016
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 22.

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