Feb 5, 2008

Wisconsin High Court Candidates Disgrace the Office

‘Don’t worry about the result; just tell me what the law is.’

Such a directive ought to be the mission, objective and goal of every justice of the state’s top appellate court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

If one were to ask candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court their commitment to the above principle, one can expect a declaration of absolute fidelity.

But you would not deduce the presence of this judicial ethos from the campaigns of the two leading candidates for the seat in the current election, Justice Louis Butler and Judge Michael Gableman.

Like the others' before them, their campaigns do not offer explanation of the judicial process, the nature of appellate procedures, the role of briefs and arguments in the creation of judicial policy, and the imperative to be impartial; but rather well-crafted political demagoguery.

Go to both candidates’ websites (and their TV spots) and one can read about the endorsements from police associations, law enforcement officials, and District Attorneys.

What does parading the endorsements mean?

That these candidates have a disposition in favor of a particular class of litigants?

Judges are supposed to be impartial.

Their slogans ought to be: Elect us, we’re corrupt!

And both men know better.

The same principle applies to endorsements from unions, business organizations, or any other interests.

That’s great that the Supreme Court has unanimously called for public financing for candidates to its office. Money corrupts more than endorsements.

If Butler and Gableman wish to be a Supreme Court justice for the next term, they should act like it and stow the likes of the law-and-order, we’re tough rhetoric, and instead edify the electorate in judicial processes and the function of the top appellate court in impartially ascertaining what the law is.



  1. This has got to be the dumbest post on the supreme court campaign I have ever seen. Do you really think it is the job of the justices to educate the public on the minutia of the court system? Maybe they can run School House Rock TV ads on the court system.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    "(M)inutia", that's an interesting way of describing judicial policy making.

    I do make the assumption that litigation is an enterprise generally requiring the assistance of legal counsel.

    That the legal system is not accessible to the lay person is axiomatic.

    Furthermore, the electorate, generally speaking, does not realize that the Supreme Court is an appellate court, not an advocate in the adversarial judicial system for one class of, or one particular civil or criminal litigant.

    The Court applies the law impartially without bias or favor for a given appellant or appellee.

    So, yes, that the SC candidates ought to edify, as opposed to engage in rhetoric favoring one class of litigants seems obvious.