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Joel Winnig For Wisconsin State Supreme Court, Respects Judicial Process

February 8, 2011

I need to make one thing perfectly clear before I start to write about why I will enthusiastically vote Joel Winnig for Wisconsin State Supreme Court.   

I admit this is not how endorsements usually start.  So please bear with me.

I do not think voters should make choices via the ballot box for the Supreme Court.

I favor merit selection of court justices, as do many in this state and across the nation.  Even former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor views merit selection of state judges as a way to eliminate the undermining of the independence of the judiciary that is now taking place.

The major reason many frown on electing judges is the amount of money raised and used by special interests from both ends of the political spectrum for candidates.  At the end of the electoral process citizens have less reason to think justice is fair or balanced, or the legal decisions that govern them have not been bought and paid for by powerful interest groups.

I would like to know how all the candidates running for the high court this spring view the idea of merit selection.   That is just one of many topics that voters have a right to know.  A better informed electorate makes wiser choices on election day.

Which leads me to Joel Winnig.

Only Joel Winnig has stepped forward and proposed that instead of cash heavy ad buys on television Supreme Court candidates should engage the electorate with a debate or two.  That there has not been a positive response from the other candidates to get such a debate lined up means that ‘we the people’  end up the losers.

That is not how it should be.

Long before this race started I have paid attention to Joel Winnig.  Be it his common sense approach to topics of the day, or his personable style, Winnig seems smart and well-reasoned. 

Once Winnig announced his candidacy for the Supreme Court I started to watch closely how he walked his talk. 

That is, after all, what separates mere candidates from serious-minded individuals who seek to make a real difference if elected.

That Joel Winnig is taking public financing and operates around the idea that the court belongs to the people and not special interests made him my candidate for office.  At once!

That Winnig is not a wealthy lawyer, but a well-intentioned one who works for folks like me was another selling point for his election.  

Winnig understands the judicial process must be open and grounded in principles.  He does not abide tactics that undermines the faith citizens need to have in their justice system.  For most of us that should be a  “well, yeah”  statement.  To believe such things about the justice system should not have to be stated.  

But after the excessively expensive court races over the past few years, and the less than stellar people elected as a result of negative ads, we need a Joel Winnig  to be on the court.   We need someone to speak candidly about the flaws in the system, as we have drifted far from where the judiciary should be.  This needs to concern all of Wisconsin.

Which bring me back to the start of this blog post.

In a merit selection process a panel or board would find men and women like Joel Winnig and narrow them down to a small list to be presented to the Governor.  (Again, I have no idea how Winng feels about merit selection.)  The panel making the list would be a highly informed cross-section of the legal community in the state.    The rancor, money, and special interest components for what now passes as court campaigns would be ended. 

There are many fine legal minds like Joel Winnig in Wisconsin, but they often do not wish to enter the political arena.  Since we do not have merit selection process in this state, and probably will not for a long time, we are left to the current electoral process. 

Therefore we must look for the best person of those announced that will honor the judicial process and fairly read the law and interpret the Constitution.  I have faith that person is Joel Winnig.  I am most confident that he cares about the judical process and will honor it if elected this spring.

I ask my readers to cast a ballot for Joel Winnig on February 15, 2011.

3 Comments
  1. Don Richards permalink
    February 9, 2011 1:00 PM

    I understand what you mean and you make a valid point. But the thing that really needs to be looked at is that this is a State Supreme Court race. People don’t follow this race like they do other national and even other state-wide races.

    Winnig can tout that he wants to have a debate, but with no scheduled media to cover it I’m sure the candidates would be lucky to even get 40 people there. With no media that is all they are left with when they could be attending several other meeting in other areas of the state where voters will actually turnout.

    Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree in this case.

  2. February 9, 2011 12:21 PM

    I hear what you are saying, and I thank you for the time you took to comment.

    However if I were a candidate and had an event with 40 people on the agenda vs. the opprotunity to talk to thousands I think movement could take place with scheduling.

    If I were a candidate and had a fundraiser vs the chance to get TV time for free in a debate I would find a way to change the calendar too.

    In other words there is no calendar set in stone or reasons that changes can not occur.

    Just look for instance at the most pressed races….that being for the White House. In the final days rallies and events are made in battelground states wiht little advance notice. If that can happen on a such a large scale I think a primary State Supreme Court debate can be managed.

    At the end of the day all candidates should feel an obligation of wanting to convey ideas with those they wish to represent..be it in a legislative body or on the bench. To have a dialouge with the voters seems to me the only way one would want to have a race conducted.

  3. Don Richards permalink
    February 9, 2011 10:35 AM

    I have to respectfully disagree with you here. If you look when Atty. Winnig came out with his “press release” that he would like to challenge the others to a debate, it was just 2 weeks before election day.

    Now correct me if I’m wrong but haven’t the qualified candidates been officially on the ballot for over a month? If attempt to set up a debate two weeks before the election I’m willing to bet the other candidates calendars are full. It doesn’t speak highly to the staff of the Winnig campaign if they are struggling for attention this late in the game.

    No I’m no political buff but if you challenge others to a debate isn’t it custom to set up a date/time and find an independent news organization to cover it. Otherwise, one, who is going to know about it, and two, who’s going to actually come to see it if it is not televised. From what I’ve seen from these press releases and what has been covered by you and other media.

    Seems to me it’s a lack of experience on Winnig’s campaign rather than an issue with the other candidates not accepting a challenge to a debate.

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