The NY Times took a not so "gentle" shot at our state Supreme Court. What is amazing is that someone noticed this Bizarro World of justice halfway across the country. The only Wisconsinites who haven’t lost their faith are those conservative partisans getting everything their activist court can give them. Here’s a portion of the Times editorial:
Harsh state judicial campaigns financed by ever larger amounts of special interest money are eating away at public faith in judicial impartiality. There are few places where the spectacle is more shameful than Wisconsin, where over-the-top campaigning, self-interested rulings, and a complete breakdown of courthouse collegiality and ethics is destroying trust in its Supreme Court.
On Monday, a special prosecutor was named to investigate an altercation between two justices on opposite sides of the court’s bitter ideological divide … a heated exchange shortly before the court upheld the new state law eliminating most collective-bargaining rights for public employees. What is certain is that Justice Prosser should have recused himself from that ruling. He voted to uphold the law. Given the lawyer’s role in Justice Prosser’s recent recount success, a reasonable person might well question the judge’s impartiality on that case, too. After first saying he had no intention of recusing himself, Justice Prosser on Thursday asked the parties in the campaign finance case to file memos stating their views about recusal. It should not take a formal request for him to step aside.
A contentious 4-to-3 decision by the court last month declared recusal decisions by the justices to be unreviewable. In another sign of the court’s dysfunction, the deciding vote came from Justice Patience Roggensack, whose involvement in an earlier case was the subject of the disqualification motion that the court was reviewing. Like the ruling itself, Justice Roggensack’s participation in judging her own conduct showed astounding disregard for legal ethics and every litigant’s right to impartial justice.
The problems don’t even stop there. A year ago, by another 4-to-3 vote along ideological lines, the court weakened the recusal standard by adopting a rule saying that campaign fund-raising or expenditures can never be the sole basis for a judge’s disqualification. The rule was largely written by a business group that has spent lavishly in judicial campaigns.
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