Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Speaking Out on Judicial Issues in Ways Some Find Troubling

Fascinating Patrick Marley report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  Usually it is conservatives pushing the envelope on judicial campaign speech. But now there’s this:

Tim Burns is doing what state Supreme Court candidates have long avoided — telling voters what he thinks of the issues of the day.

He fears the voter ID law disenfranchises minorities.

He believes the state’s $3 billion incentive package for Foxconn Technology Group is a raw deal for taxpayers.

And Burns — who is advertising that he’s a Democrat in the officially nonpartisan race — thinks the state’s high court has titled its decisions to corporations instead of the average person.

This isn’t normal. Typically, court candidates avoid overtly stating their political affiliation or directly talking about issues that might come before them as justices — although they often provide hints about their leanings.

Burns contends the traditional approach isn’t fair to voters and has contributed to liberals losing court races most of the time over the past decade. His opponents say his method of campaigning raises questions about his ability to be impartial and would bar him from hearing certain cases.

Burns is an attorney in the Madison office of the national law firm Perkins Coie who specializes in suing insurance companies. His opponents are Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet and Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock.


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