Today is the election between incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack and challenger Marquette Law School professor Ed Fallone. Before I get into an analysis of the candidates, I have to make sure everybody knows that polls are open until 8 p.m. today and that you can find your polling location at myvote.wi.gov.
The candidates’ platforms are fairly simplistic. I will begin with the incumbent. Roggensack has been a Supreme Court associate justice for 10 years and has often sided with the Court’s conservative members. Not surprisingly, the majority of Republicans and Republican donors have lined up behind her.
Roggensack, who served seven years on the Court of Appeals before being elected to the Supreme Court, believes her years of experience as a judge and justice are the most valuable assets she can bring to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Roggensack also cites her numerous endorsements from four former Supreme Court Justices, six Court of Appeals Justices, more than 100 judges, more than 50 county sheriffs and more than 25 district attorneys.
Roggensack, however, is facing continued criticism for recusing herself from hearing the disciplinary case involving Justice David Prosser who allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. Roggensack has also been criticized for her stance on allowing justices to remain on cases in which the particular justice received campaign contribution from one of the parties involved in the case. In other words, if a justice received campaign contributions from a particular party being represented in court, she does not believe that is enough reason for a justice’s recusal. from the case. Roggensack reaffirmed her stance on the issue during a recent debate between herself and Fallone stating, “the rule is today as it has always been.”
Fallone has been teaching at Marquette Law School since 1992 and is running on the platform that the dynamics of the Supreme Court must change in order to return the court to its functional and respected status. Many Democrats are supporting Fallone, and he has received campaign contributions from several Democratic legislators.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Fallone has promised that, if elected, he would revive the ethics charge against Prosser and work to get the charge in front of three appeals court judges. Fallone also opposes Roggesnsack’s stance on justices’ recusals and campaign contributions, saying at a debate, “If [the person who loses a case knows] that the opposing counsel or the opposing party made a campaign contribution to the judge, they will doubt the fairness of the proceedings.”
Roggensack criticized Fallone for his stance on the issue of campaign contributions, accusing him of flip-flopping on his position. Fallone also does not have any experience as a judge or justice, unlike his contender.
Both candidates for Supreme Court are fit to hold the position. However, Fallone is the better candidate.
Fallone will change the dynamics of the Supreme Court and bring a much-needed check to the powers of the executive and legislative branches. Currently, the governor is a Republican, both houses of the Legislature are controlled by Republicans and although it is supposed to be a nonpartisan body, the Supreme Court has had a conservative-leaning tendency for the past three years.
It is a necessity for our state government to listen to the voice of the minority. Under current conditions, it is unnecessary for the majority to even acknowledge the minority party’s objections to their policies at any level of our state government.
While there are many facets to the Supreme Court race, the real reason I’m writing this is to help get people informed and to get people to the polls. Spring elections have always had dismal voter turnout, and this is embarrassing for the world’s largest proclaimer of democracy. These spring elections matter a great deal. This is when we elect our justices, our judges, our mayors, our city boards and our school boards. These are the elections that will determine which individuals will be making decisions that affect us on a personal level. To the individual, these elections are more important than the state and national elections that occur in November. Decisions are made by those who show up, and every election is important no matter the level of public attention it receives.
Jared Mehre (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a sophomore majoring in political science, sociology and legal studies.