That will leave six justices to hear several cases, raising the possibility of 3-3 splits on the deeply divided court....Prosser is the conservative justice who was involved in that bizarre "chokehold" incident. (There was no actual chokehold, apparently.) He won a hotly contested campaign for reelection this summer after the Wisconsin protesters focused their energy on defeating him. At present the protest effort is aimed at various recall elections, and there is a current controversy before the court about whether the next round of recall elections against legislators will use the newly drawn legislative districts (which favor Republicans) or the old districts that were drawn back in 2002, when Democrats controlled the process.
Prosser did not participate in orders this week in a fast-moving, politically charged case over recall elections...
I wonder what is wrong with Justice Prosser. Based on what I've read about the "chokehold" incident, I imagine an intense degree of interpersonal conflict and stress inside the court. One could speculate about the kind of health problems such a workplace environment might cause or exacerbate. Is this month off a prelude to resignation? If he were to resign, the Governor — the Democrats' nemesis Scott Walker — would have the power to appoint the person who will replace him, but that person will need to stand for reelection next year. [NOTE: Text edited for accuracy.]
Walker, of course, is facing a petition drive to force him into a recall election some time next year. Under the circumstances, it would be interesting to see what kind of justice he would pick to replace Prosser. Prosser is the 4th vote in the conservative group that determines the outcome in all of the ideologically split 4-3 cases. Obviously, Walker would want a reliable conservative. But beyond that, he should want to burnish his own reputation by picking someone with impressive legal credentials. And considering the situation inside the court, he should want someone with strong leadership skills and a great capacity to operate in a psychologically stressful work environment.
ADDED: Maybe something else happened, something like the "chokehold" incident, and he's been pressured to get that "anger management" treatment he was previously told to get. There could have been an ultimatum: Get that treatment now, or we'll go public.