Public financing for Wisconsin’s Supreme Court candidates “has been one of the bright spots in Wisconsin’s stormy year,” Mimi Marziani of the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed.
It was the first year that candidates for the high court received public campaign funds under a new law. Marziani, counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, wrote about the experience:
“While … the election was highly politicized and attracted large amounts of outside spending, both publicly financed candidates were insulated from the partisan fundraising fights. Instead, they ran largely positive campaigns using public funds alone, without the need to beg for money from future litigants.”
The op-ed criticized a vote by the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to “gut” the Impartial Justice Act, which authorizes public financing for Supreme Court elections.
About $1.8 million in savings would be used to implement a new voter ID law. ”Under the plan,” Marziani explained, “all those Wisconsin voters who checked the box on their income tax form designating some of their taxes to fund clean judicial elections will instead see their tax dollars used for an unnecessary ID policy that will make voting in the Badger State more difficult than anywhere else in the country.”
Marziani concluded, “[T]here is no way no way to defend the one-two move to destroy a crucial safeguard of judicial integrity while burdening the right to vote.” The Brennan Center is a partner of Justice at Stake.