Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Highlights Politicization of Courts

Yesterday Wisconsin held an election to select a Supreme Court Justice and as of 12:26 pm today the vote count is 739,350 for Justice Prosser (the sitting Justice) and 739, 574 for Ms. Kloppenburg, his challenger.  There will be a recount for sure.

After the recount, one of the two will win by a handful of votes, but the idea that the law is impartial or blind will lose by a landslide after a campaign that featured both candidates repeatedly being queried about how they would rule on the challenge brought against a bill signed by Governor Walker to end bargaining rights for public employees.  And both candidates hinting how they would rule, while trying to avoid prejudging the matter.

All in all an ugly sight.

Politicians and citizens can and should say where they stand on issues.  But judges hopefully would decide cases not on politics or ideology but the law. 

In the Wisconsin challenge a trial judge has enjoined the law and appeals are pending.  Everybody believes the Wisconsin Supreme Court will decide finally the case.

A main legal question is whether or not the Legislature obeyed the public notice requirements of Wisconsin law prior to passing it.

No matter how the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules, unless it comes to an unanimous or near unanimous decision, many citizens will think the ruling is just one more political vote and political decision.  We all lose as a result.

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