Jan 18 2012
The courts have become a football in Wisconsin’s ongoing political fights. Wisconsin’s judges, like those in Pennsylvania, are elected, and judicial elections have become markedly more contentious since Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s row with the state’s labor unions last year. The Wisconsin State Journal has called for merit selection stating:
Wisconsin’s broken system for selecting members to its highest court favors partisanship and political connections when justices are appointed by governors — with zero oversight — to fill vacancies. And when elections actually do occur, Wisconsin’s system for selecting its top judges favors campaign skills and special interest backing. Lost in the process is the need for experience, independence and impartiality.
The State Journal called for a system of merit selection that relies on a citizens nominating commission to screen candidates for potential appointment by the governor.:
Many liberal and conservative activists would rather continue to fight for control of the court in expensive, mud-slinging elections. But Wisconsin deserves and needs a high court with honor, one that doesn’t favor either political party, one that makes decisions based on the law regardless of the political fallout.
Merit selection is the best answer to Wisconsin’s embarrassing and dysfunctional state Supreme Court.
A poll conducted by Justice at Stake has shown that recent judicial politicking and conflict has reduced Wisconsinites’ faith in their Supreme Court from 52% three years ago to 33% today. This highlights the dangers of judicial elections. Whether such elections actually produce more corruption, the public’s faith in the judicial system is undermined by the perception of favoritism resulting from candidates’ fundraising and political ties.
Tags: Governor Walker, Justice At Stake, Merit Selection, Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Journal