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As I See It

A better way to select Supreme Court justices?



It used to be, not that long ago, that races for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court were relatively sleepy affairs. After all, the races are officially non-partisan. The races were generally cordial, and little money was spent trying to get elected. Not so any more. The races for Wisconsin Supreme Court have become distasteful slugfests, dominated by special interest money. In the most recent election, more than $4.3 million was spent by the two candidates, with the ads getting more and more nasty. Some, like former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, are calling for a new system for choosing people to sit on the state’s highest court. Geske thinks the races have gotten so ugly, it is time for Supreme Court justices to be appointed by the Governor. But that opens the door to even more political bias. Just look at the current fight over the opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. One interesting solution would be for circuit court judges throughout the state to select who should serve on the state Supreme Court. After all, circuit judges are elected by the people, and are overseen by the Supreme Court, so they would have interest in selecting the best candidates. That is an idea worthy of consideration. But perhaps a better idea is just to clean up these races. Let’s get rid of the attack ads, and the big money, and return the races for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to the way things used to be, in the good old days.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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