Email date: 10/23/09
In this update:
1. Impartial Justice bill nears goal line
2. Supreme Court tied in knots over bias charges
3. Newspapers urge recusal reform
4. First Brett Favre, now this?
Impartial Justice bill nears goal line
The latest word we are getting from key legislators is that final action on the Impartial Justice bill overhauling state Supreme Court elections will come the first week of November. We have been told that the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will act on the legislation at the beginning of that week and it will then be taken up by both houses by Thursday, November 5.
While both houses agree on the workings of a new public financing system for high court elections, discussions continue on how to pay for it. The Assembly appears prepared to make repairs to the broken income tax checkoff that currently appears on state tax forms to establish a solid, stable and reliable source of funding for the proposed program. The Senate, however, seems to prefer simply adding $2 to the existing $1 checkoff without making changes to the mechanism. This is what could be called a faith-based approach to funding the bill, because there would be adequate funding for the new system only if roughly four times more taxpayers took affirmative action to designate $3 of their taxes for this purpose than currently do so with the $1 checkoff.
ACTION ALERT: We are on the brink of winning the most significant campaign reform in Wisconsin in more than 30 years. We need you to contact your state senator in the next few days. Please take a few minutes to make a phone call or write a letter or send an e-mail urging support for the Impartial Justice bill and stressing that this reform needs to be paid for in full to work.
The amount needed to fully fund this program of publicly financed Supreme Court elections amounts to about 90 cents a year per taxpayer.
Your senator needs to hear that fair, impartial and independent judges are priceless in a democracy and safeguarding the integrity of Wisconsin’s highest court by turning Supreme Court auctions back into elections is worth 90 cents a year to you.
Supreme Court tied in knots over bias charges
Already facing charges of judicial misconduct, Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman now is the target of another complaint accusing him of bias and demanding that he be disqualified from ruling on criminal cases. With the court planning to hold a hearing next Wednesday on whether to make changes to the part of the judicial ethics code governing when judges should be disqualified from ruling on cases, the justices are fractured over the Gableman bias issue.
Newspapers urge recusal reform
The Democracy Campaign has been invited to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, and in recent days the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Capital Times weighed in on judicial recusal, calling for the same kind of reform WDC will be urging the Supreme Court to consider.
First Brett Favre, now this?
Minnesota’s been getting the best of Wisconsin lately. Today’s post on our Big Money Blog focuses on the latest example. Yesterday’s post ponders the question of whether civics instruction is going the way of the dinosaur and what happens to our democracy if it does.