Wisconsin Supreme Court Drops Prosser, Renames Law Library for State’s First Female Attorney

The Wisconsin Supreme Court renamed the state’s law library after Lavinia Goodell, the state’s first woman lawyer, on Wednesday. The change removes former Justice David Prosser’s name from the building.

Prosser, who sat on the Court from 1998 to 2016 and before that was the Republican speaker of the state Assembly, had the library named after him shortly before his retirement in 2016.

The name change drew the ire of conservative members of the Court and Republicans. Justice Rebecca Bradley called the decision “petty and vindictive.”

“In another petty and vindictive maneuver, the progressive majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court flexes its political power to remove Justice David Prosser’s name from the State Law Library,” Bradley wrote on X, adding that the Court could have honored Goodell in other ways.

Goodell was admitted to practice law in Rock County in 1874, but a year later she was barred from representing a client in an appeal to the Supreme Court. She then drafted legislation, signed into law in 1877, guaranteeing women the right to practice law in the state. A few years later she became the first woman to brief a case before the Supreme Court and then argued and won her first case at the state Supreme Court shortly before her death in 1880.

Prosser’s tenure on the Court was often tumultuous, including a 2011 incident in which he put his hands around liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s throat during an argument in the justices’ chambers about former Gov. Scott Walker’s law curbing collective bargaining rights in the state.

Walsh Bradley was one of the members of the Court who made the decision to remove his name from the library.

Source:  https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2024/06/21/wisconsin-supreme-court-drops-prosser-renames-law-library-for-states-first-female-attorney/