An upcoming contest for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to be contentious and soaked with special-interest money. Will the race further erode public confidence in the court?
Another state newspaper editorial, this time at the (Racine) Journal Times, has raised this concern (see Gavel Grab for earlier commentary). The Journal Times says the court’s reputation may not improve until Wisconsin eliminates judicial elections for the court and switches to an appointive system.
In “recent and regrettable” elections, the court “has become the fresh battleground for political advantage with massive amounts of special interest spending from both conservative and liberal groups,” the editorial laments. It says the “poisonous winner-take-all infighting” that has wracked the state also has gripped the court. The editorial concludes:
“Wisconsin faces this spring … a high court race that will drive the court even deeper into dysfunction as politicians try to wrangle for partisan advantage.
“It’s a path that will take the state even further away from its past, when its high court was respected and lauded for its considered independence. Given the current climate of political divisiveness, we do not expect that will change until Wisconsin citizens demand a constitutional change to go to an appointive system for state Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges — as more than half the states in the nation have done.”
To learn more about the contest for the high court, see these earlier Gavel Grab posts.