Monday, February 12, 2018

Stronger Judicial Recusal Rules Vital for an Impartial State Judiciary

By Jay Heck

Wisconsin, from statehood in 1848 to about a decade ago, in 2007, had a national reputation for having among the most respected, impartial, non-partisan, fair and trusted state court systems in the nation. Much of this was because there was a generally-held belief among all Wisconsinites of all political persuasions and ideologies that the courts should be “above politics as usual.” In order to maintain the confidence of the citizenry, judges and justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court had to be scrupulously non-partisan and impartial and not be perceived as having been compromised by outside lobbying pressure, campaign contributions, or other political influence.

For decades, this standard not only survived, but flourished and as recently as the early 2000’s the Wisconsin Supreme Court was held up by legal experts across the country as the “gold standard” for how Justices should be elected and serve once in office in a state supreme court. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the 72 county circuit courts and the hundreds of municipal court judges also were perceived as having the highest standards for impartiality, non-partisanship and fairness across the state. And while Wisconsin legislators fell into public disrepute in the aftermath of the worst political scandal in the state in a century – the Legislative Caucus Scandal of 2001-2002, the reputation of state courts were not only unaffected by the legislative scandal, but enhanced in their execution of equal justice under the law.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Time to Defend Our Democracy

By Cal Potter

Russia extensively meddled to influence our political and social views, shown through thousands of social media/internet posts, many paid for in Rubles. This tactic is illegal, a modern attack on our nation, and the political hacks who aided and abetted this effort are also guilty of a crime.

Putin and his oligarchy cronies have stolen billions of dollars from the Russian economy, diverting and laundering that treasure via foreign banks and investments. This theft is tragic for the Russian people, and a crime. Those who helped in this heist in any manner also engaged in criminal activity, and should be held accountable.

The Mueller investigation into the above is essential for the rule of law and defense of our democracy. Failure to thoroughly investigate and prosecute these illegal acts would be a despicable derelict of duty, and disrespect of our national heritage.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

UW Study Documents Problems with Voter ID

By Tom Frazier

It appears that people who thought that Wisconsin's strict Voter ID law would suppress eligible voters have had their suspicions confirmed.

A recent (September 25, 2017) study by the University of Wisconsin indicates that 16,801 (11.2%) people were deterred from voting by Wisconsin’s Voter ID law and 9,001(6%) people were prevented from voting in the 2016 presidential election. The study also found that low income and minority voters were disproportionately affected with 21.1% of low-income voters deterred vs. 7.2% of higher income voters. Only 8.3% of white registered voters were deterred compared to 27.5% of African Americans.

“Deterred” from voting is defined as (they) “lack qualifying ID or mention ID as a reason for not voting.” “Prevented” means that “they lack qualifying ID or list voter ID as their primary reason for not voting.”

The study was conducted by mailing a survey to 2,400 nonvoting registered voters in Milwaukee and Dane County with a total of 293 (12.2%) surveys returned. The survey was funded by the Office of the Dane County Clerk, so no questions were asked about political party or who they voted for. People responding to the survey were asked about gender, race, income and exposure to Voter ID information. They were also asked to respond to reasons for not voting such as, unhappy with choice of candidates, vote would not have mattered, transportation problems, did not have photo ID, told at polling place that ID was inadequate, couldn’t get absentee ballot, and problems with early voting.