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Assembly passes Supreme Court chief justice amendment

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a constitutional amendment that would rework how state Supreme Court justices pick their leader.

The Wisconsin Constitution states that the justice with the most seniority is automatically the chief justice. But the court’s conservative majority has been chafing under the leadership of liberal-leaning Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Under the Republican-authored amendment, the justices would vote on who serves as chief. That would allow the majority to elect someone new as chief.

Republicans say the amendment would create a more democratic process. Democrats counter the measure is designed to punish Abrahamson.

The GOP-controlled state Senate approved the measure on Tuesday. The Republican-controlled Assembly followed suit Thursday, passing the provision 62-34.

The vote sets up a statewide referendum on the amendment in the April 7 election.

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