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Merit Selection For Wisconsin Court Way To Proceed

February 25, 2011

I have long long advocated for merit selection of judges.   

We can no longer pretend there is not a credibility problem with the court.  The electoral process is loaded with ways for special interests to almost insure that a candidate with an agenda is elected.  We all can recognize the reasons that ill-serves our state.  Since the general public has proved unable or unwilling to make better decisions for the judiciary, I think merit selection is an idea whose time has come.

Once again the Wisconsin State Journal editorialized on the matter in today’s newspaper.  How long before my fellow citizens clue into the fact the merit selection has…well…merit?

That’s why Wisconsin should select high court justices based on merit rather than on how good judicial candidates are at waging election campaigns or luring support from special interest groups.

The reputation of Wisconsin’s top court has been soiled in recent years by nasty judicial campaigns, ethics investigations and demands for justices to recuse themselves from big cases involving their campaign backers.

Merit selection — a system of appointing, rather then electing, top justices — would help bring back trust in the state Supreme Court. A panel of citizens insulated from politics would pick finalists for the Wisconsin Supreme Court when vacancies occurred. The governor or some other appointing authority would then pick a new justice from the list. Some states also allow voters to decide whether sitting justices keep their seats at the ends of their terms.

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