Amendment would eliminate citizens' vote for Supreme Court Justices

Supreme Court justice "elections really, in many respects, aren't that important," according to Senator Schultz.

In press release: Schultz, Cullen Draft Merit Selection Resolution, July 1

Senators Dale Shultz (R-Richland Center) and Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) proposed a State Constitutional amendment to eliminate the elections of State Supreme Court Justices.

Senator Shultz hopes to restrict the influence of campaign ads run by third-party special interests which "distort the records of the candidates, mislead the public, and unfairly tarnish the reputations of the candidates."

A constitutional amendment would eliminate influential campaign ads by eliminating elections.

Justices would be appointed by a committee, the Governor, and a Senate confirmation hearing.

In the news: Wisconsin needs stronger, not weaker, campaign ad laws, July 7

Mark Ladov, counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice reports:
The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules voted recently to approve legislation rolling back campaign finance disclosure rules ...
Studies show that anonymous spenders [campaign contributors] are more likely to run negative and misleading ads than groups that are required to disclose their funding source.
The conservative U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on corporate spending
based on the belief that political spending should be paired with 'effective disclosure' to educate the voting public. Transparency in political spending is necessary, the court explained, because it 'enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weights to different speakers and messages.'

In legislature: Legislative committee rolls back campaign finance disclosure rules, June 23
After exterminating any and all public election financing in the state budget and thus handing state elections over entirely to private interests, legislators today took steps to make it harder for the public to see how special interests are funneling money into political advertising campaigns.

Hypothesis: Government will absorb power from the electorate with the Merit Selection Amendment.

This is not, as Senator Tim Cullen puts it, an "additional check." Senators Shultz's and Cullen's expansion of government is not in line with the views of liberals or small-government conservatives.

Future work: Is judicial appointment a bipartisan, socially conservative special interest?

Fun with resources:
  • Brennan Center for Justice - Democracy

    The Democracy Program works toward:
    A campaign finance system that reduces the role of big money in elections by providing voluntary public financing at the national, state and local levels.
  • The International Declaration of Human Rights
    The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Friday, July 8, 2011


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