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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wisconsin State Supreme Court

On Tuesday, the 28th of March, Justice Jon P. Wilcox announced that he will retire from the Wisconsin Supreme Court next year.

From the Wisconsin State Journal, this is the part that got me:

Then-Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Wilcox to the court in 1992 after the retirement of Justice William Callow. He won election to a 10-year term in 1997 by handily defeating Milwaukee attorney Walt Kelly in a race that later led to fines against his campaign for alleged evasion of election laws.

Wilcox, 69, said he announced his decision one year before next April's election to give potential candidates time to enter the race. He could have retired this year, but that would have allowed Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle to appoint his replacement.
--emphasis added

Now, when I first saw this article I was thinking, "Come on, guys! We gotta get Green into office! The last thing we want is Doyle appointing someone to the Wisconsin Supreme Court!"

But, wait! Elected? Justice Wilcox was elected? Yep. I confirmed it.

The court is comprised of seven justices who are elected in state-wide, non-partisan elections. Each justice is elected for a ten-year term, and only one justice may be elected in any year. In the event of a vacancy on the court, the governor has the power to appoint an individual to the vacancy, but that justice must then stand for election in the first year where no other justice's term expires.
--emphasis added


Now, in my own defense, I didn't grow up in Wisconsin. I never went to school in Wisconsin. So, as far as Wisconsin politics go, sometimes I'm very much a foreigner. (Gosh, the things you can learn from reading the newspaper...)

But, my point is that this seems like an very intriguing way to do it! I mean, does this work? Obviously it works well enough for us to get things done, but it's hard to tell if Wisconsinites are actually satisfied with the results. So...

Hmm. The Supreme Court being filled by elected Justices? The SCOTUS actually being representative of the will of the people? It would certainly be an interesting solution to all the partisanship that's been going on. But, naw, it could never happen!

Then again, would we want it to?


At 3/31/2006 2:20 PM, Blogger Joey said...

No, we wouldn't want the SCOTUS elected. It's for the same reason our US Senators shouldn't be elected, and we should repeal the 17th Amendment. We elect enough officials already. Local politics are much more effective than statewide and national politics.

Besides, our Supreme Court justices shouldn't have to worry about re-election. They're supposed to be able to rule without concern for political ramifications. That's for the politicians to worry about with bills or, if necessary, constitutional amendments.

At 3/31/2006 5:09 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

One of the things that I think is very interesting about the US Constitution is that, in the original document (I haven't checked all the amendments) there's nothing to say that Senators are actually supposed to represent us, the people. It's clear that the Congressmen are supposed to, but the Senator's role is less clear. It seems as though they are to represent the interests of the State (which is sometimes a very different matter from representing the interests of the people).

At 3/31/2006 7:44 PM, Blogger Lisa Renee said...

I also see the disadvantages to judges running for office. Granted when the process for selection ends up being involved in politics as well it makes it more difficult. It should be based on the qualifications of the person, at least that's how it was designed.

At 4/01/2006 1:01 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

For me, my initial reaction was "Wow! Cool!" But then I got to thinking about it... I got to thinking about how corrupted our elected official already are and how very bad that would be for a judge, especially one on the highest seat in the land. So, yeah, I agree that it's not a good idea. It was just that initial sense of power...


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