- Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissenting in Ozanne v. Ftizgerald, Fitzgerald, Ellis and Suder, Defendents, La Follette, Defendent-Petitioner-Movant. [Wisconsin and Wisconsin ex rel., Huebsch, Petitioners v. Sumi et al, Defendants (June 14, 2011)] Case effectively invalidated Wisconsin's Open Meeting law and upheld Scott Walker secretly-contrived, anti-worker-organizing Act 10 passed with unanimous GOP support and unanimous Democratic opposition.
Madison, Wisconsin -- Two challengers are slated to run against Wisconsin state Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack—Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone and well-regarded, lemon law attorney Vince Megna.
When Prosser was running for reelection last in March 2011, Prosser campaigned openly telling special interests how his past votes advanced their interests, not even bothering to declare himself an impartial jurist ascertaining the law and impartially applying it to cases that come before the state's top appellate court.
Roggensack will be somewhat more circumspect in her campaign, though as Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson in the infamous Open Meeting-Worker Organizing case at the top of this piece, suggested: GOP justices reach pre-determined conclusions on political cases.
We can count on Roggensack, though, to message her campaign with clear displays of affinity with specific communities of interest and certain classes of litigants. 'I'll vote with these guys (the GOP),' is the message.
This message is an implicit admission of corruption.
The job of a Supreme Court justice is to act as an impartial judge seeking to find out what the law is and how the law applies to cases that come before the state's top appellate court.That's not a controversial assertion; it's fundamental to our judicial branch.
As the Wisconsin's Code of Judicial Conduct mandates; "'impartiality' (means) the absence of bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, particular parties, or classes of parties, as well as maintaining an open mind in considering issues that may come before the judge."
In the last 20 years in Wisconsin, I have seen only two state Supreme Court campaigns emphasizing the rule of law and impartiality—those of former Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
We have no culture of good government towards our judicial branch nor in our greater political culture—not from the corporate press, not from academia, not from judicial candidates generally—so it no wonder that corrupt partisans such as Justices Roggensack, Ziegler, Gableman and Prosser get elected with turn-out generally in the 20-some percent range or less. [Prosser's narrow 2011 win over Kloppenburg with some 33 percent turn-out is an outlier.]
One can understand why some advocate "merit selection,' though this is short-sighted and foolish, in my opinion: I mean how can a partisan governor and partisan legislature be counted on to appoint impartial judges? How could a non-partisan panel appointing justices be ascertained?
Some suggestions for the candidates:
- Educate the public about what the top appellate court does. Few voters have a faint clue
- Make fidelity to "the absence of bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, particular parties, or classes of parties, as well as maintaining an open mind in considering issues that may come before the judge" the basis upon why you are running for Supreme Court justice