For well over a century, Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court was largely considered to be an exemplary legal body, lauded for its fair-minded and rigorous approach. In the past decade, however, there’s been a significant erosion of that reputation, thanks in large part to the enormous influx of outside spending on campaigns, and an increasingly polarized state electorate.
Now, influence from outside donor groups and a recent lack of accountability for justices presiding over related cases could have serious repercussions for everything from reproductive health and voter access to campaign finance law.
There is almost no regulation remaining in Wisconsin when it comes to when and if judges must pull themselves off cases involving campaign donors. That’s largely thanks to a series of decisions on the part of the conservative-dominated court over the past decade. The upcoming April 3 election, when two starkly different candidates will be on the ballot for the state Supreme Court, will ultimately be a test of whether or not Wisconsin voters are content to let that trend continue.