Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Abrahamson raises concerns about cost of Supreme Court races in state of judiciary

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson acknowledged the "tenor and cost" of judicial campaigns may affect the "public trust and confidence in the judiciary" during her state of the judiciary address today in Green Bay.

"I am concerned that the cost of judicial campaigns may keep talented people from running and that the public will perceive that judges are beholden to campaign contributors," Abrahamson said, according to prepared remarks.

Abrahamson pointed out she has previously called for the public financing of Supreme Court races.

"We must do everything in our power to ensure that Wisconsin continues to have a fair, impartial, neutral, and non-partisan judiciary and that we maintain public trust and confidence in the judicial system," she said.

This spring's race between Madison attorney Linda Clifford and Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler shattered the previous spending record for a Supreme Court race with the two combining to spend $2.7 million. With spending by outside groups, the cost of this year's race hit more than $5.8 million by one estimate. Some insiders predict an even higher-spending race in spring '08 as Doyle-appointed Justice Louis Butler tries for a 10-year term.

Read Abrahamson's remarks:

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