by Rob Luke
MADISON -- Wisconsin's Chief Justice told legislators yesterday she supports a proposed law for taxpayers to foot the bill for future state Supreme Court elections.Some questions to ponder (comments welcome):
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who was first elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1976, told a state campaign-finance committee she believed public funding could help overcome a misconception that campaign donations sway judicial decisions.
"We should try to ensure that campaign financing does not undermine the public trust and confidence in our judiciary and system of government," she said. ...
Abrahamson warned lawmakers that such laws create "legal and policy challenges" because of Constitutional free speech issues and the difficulty in encouraging judicial candidates to take public funding.
Can public funding deal with the problem of third party "independent" expenditures?
Should judicial office be elective in the first place?
Would a process of nomination, confirmation, and, perhaps, periodic one-candidate renewal elections (at relatively long intervals) be superior?
Are the best potential candidates (however we define "best") seeking judicial office in this state?