Voters Want Supreme Court Elections Reformed Now

In this update: 1. Poll shows overwhelming support for judicial election reform 2. Panel’s recommended penalty for Ziegler draws strong reaction 3. Public fed up with politics as usual 4. The difference between campaign donations and votes Voters Want Supreme Court Elections Reformed Now

Email date: 1/10/08

In this update:
1. Poll shows overwhelming support for judicial election reform
2. Panel’s recommended penalty for Ziegler draws strong reaction
3. Public fed up with politics as usual
4. The difference between campaign donations and votes

A new poll released today shows Wisconsin voters of every age, every ideological persuasion and every political party affiliation are worried about the influence of money on judges and overwhelmingly support reform legislation that would create publicly financed state Supreme Court elections.

The opinion survey was done by a Virginia-based Republican pollster for the national Justice at Stake Campaign. The polling firm’s political clients include the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, Fred Thompson, the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, a number of state Republican Party committees and over four dozen Republican members of Congress.

At today’s public hearing in an Assembly committee on the proposed ban on campaign fundraising during the budget process, the Democracy Campaign’s director called on the committee in his testimony to reschedule the cancelled public hearing on the Impartial Justice bill - originally planned for the week of Christmas - as soon as possible.

Please take a few minutes to contact members of the committee and especially chairwoman Sheryl Albers to urge them to take up Impartial Justice (Assembly Bill 250).

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Last week’s announcement that a three-judge panel is recommending the weakest possible discipline for state Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler - a reprimand - has provoked a strong editorial response from the likes of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and The Capital Times.

The Cap Times editorial makes numerous references to what the judges had to say about the "public clamor" surrounding this case. That clamor has included questions about what the public can do if judges refuse to hold other judges accountable. Dee Hall of the Wisconsin State Journal has been on the receiving end of many of these questions, and provided some answers the other day.

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The public is not just sick of what’s happening to judicial elections. The anxiety and outrage extend way beyond that. That’s the subject of a commentary by the Democracy Campaign’s director that has been published recently by a number of state newspapers.

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It’s commonly assumed that campaign fundraising prowess is a good measure of the support a candidate for office has. Read this and think again. And then consider that Mike Huckabee was outspent in Iowa by Mitt Romney by at least a margin of 15-to-1, but still beat Romney. And Ron Paul has become a bonafide fundraising phenomenon, but it has yet to translate into many votes.