Mike Fischer (1995-96)

Justice Abrahamson wearing her judicial robes, standing in front of shelves full of law books.

I clerked for “the Boss,” as I still call Shirley in my mind to this day, during Justice Day’s lone year as Chief (Shirley’s nickname was bestowed by her assistant during my year there: Sue Fieber).  Legends (and fables) be damned: what I saw, all year, was a lovefest between Chief Justice Day and the Boss, who would become Chief upon Justice Day’s retirement.  For all their disputes and differences, ideological and philosophical, these two long-serving Justices shared an abiding commitment to the Court as an institution that’s been MIA during the ensuing quarter century, during which one of the greatest state courts in this country became a lapdog genuflecting to a gerrymandered legislature, thereby becoming a national embarrassment dominated by undemocractic and often unconstitutional right-wing politics rather than consistently applied principle.

The Boss has been justly revered during her entire career –by admirers and detractors alike – because she consistently put the court and the law first rather than shoehorning either one to fit a preconceived political agenda.  And because she was brilliant – without question the smartest lawyer I ever met, in school or while practicing – she squared that commitment with an inspiring vision of law and society that prized equality and opportunity for all.  Both were integral to Boss’s vision of law as an organic, living entity that bends toward justice. I learned more from her in one year – about being a lawyer and about being a decent human being – than I’ve learned from anyone else. I miss her. So does Wisconsin.