The Supreme Court Election Matters
By Mike End
We all know that elections are important.
Last November's election resulted in a change in both the executive and legislative branches of Wisconsin government. Those changes have resulted in legislation that has dramatically changed the law in Wisconsin, including tort law, automobile insurance law, and the law of public employment.
People adversely affected by the enactment of the new laws may well challenge those laws in court. A legal challenge based upon the open meetings law has already been filed. Legal challenges to the constitutionality of portions of the new legislation, to the interpretation of the language of the new laws, and to the retroactive enforcement of portions of the new laws are likely to be filed.
Many of these legal challenges will work their way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for final determination.
That is why the upcoming Supreme Court election on April 5 is so important. The winner of the race, with its 10-year term, will be actively involved in determining how the new laws will be interpreted.
The race between sitting Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg is in its final stages. Debates have taken place and stories have been written about the candidates and their campaigns. Both have championed their independence and impartiality.
An issue that has emerged in the race is a less-than-hoped-for spirit of collegiality among the current members of the court. Each candidate argues that his or her election would help resolve the current issues among the members of the court.
The Supreme Court Rules regarding judicial conduct provide that an independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved. A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
So on April 5 when you head to the polls to elect a Supreme Court Justice, remember these rules as well as the immense importance of the work of the Supreme Court. And vote, because this election really does matter.
Mike End is the President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, the state's largest statewide voluntary bar organization. The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy.