Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Is This Any Way to Choose Judges???

Appropos of nothing John and I have been writing about recently, but kind of interesting nonetheless, Wisconsin had a state Supreme Court election yesterday that proved somewhat fascinating. Like most states, Wisconsin elects its justices. As this article discusses, this process has raised numerous questions about how these campaigns are financed and what role outside interests--who potentially have business before the court--play in these races. As campaigns become increasingly expensive, judicial candidates have greater pressure to adopt more traditional campaign tactics to secure their seats. Something to ponder is whether there should be this growing equivalence between judicial and legislative/executive campaigns. Should the job description merit a different mode of selection?

Of specific interest in this race is that for only the fourth time in Wisconsin history, since justices began being elected in 1852, a sitting incumbent justice was defeated for re-election. While we normally think about the security of congressional incumbents in gaining re-election, judicial re-election rates tend to be very high as well. Given that turnout in this election was very small, I'm not sure there's anything we can extrapolate from the results. Nonetheless, its fun to look at other types of elections going on and see whether there's a broader meaning to be gleaned.

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