MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Voters head to the polls on Tuesday, April 2nd, and one of the races that will be decided is Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race. Marquette University Law Professor Ed Fallone is challenging incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack for a seat on the seven-member court.
Fallone has framed the campaign, saying the central issue is dysfunction on the court in the wake of the physical altercation between Justice David Prosser and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.
“I ask the public: judge me on me. I don’t get into fisticuffs with my colleagues. I don’t swear at them, or use bad language. So I want them to judge me as they want me to judge them fairly and impartially based on what I have done, as I would do for them,” Roggensack said.
“I think we have a problem with dysfunction on the court as has been noted by national observers, national experts, members of the bar who approach me on the campaign trail, and it ultimately reduces to one thing: an attitude of the current members on the court of us versus them,” Fallone said.
Roggensack is seen as a conservative, and Fallone as more liberal. Both reject partisan labels, but each has a clear judicial philosophy.
“Judicial philosophy is important. I could see my job saying well, if the Legislature enacts this statute and it’s brought to us and someone says it’s ambiguous, I go back and look at what the Legislature was trying to do, and that’s what I think I’m required to do,”
“A process conservative is simply someone who believes good procedures don’t guarantee a good decision, but they sure help. They sure make it more likely you’ll get a good decision. That’s an attitude that comes from my experience in corporate law and the business world,” Fallone said.
Another issue in this campaign is money and ethics, and the question of when it’s appropriate for a judge to or justice to step down in a case involving their own donors.
“The public is very concerned once money gets involved and I think there, the consequences should be different, and there it should be more concerned because there you have the real interest of the judicial system as a whole that the public have faith in the impartiality of the judges and that rises to a whole new level when money gets involved,” Fallone said.
“This is not just a simple thing, ‘oh someone gives $500 now the judge should get off.’ You can manipulate who sits on the court very easily. Just say someone didn’t want me on their case — well, they could give me a contribution if that required me to get off with nothing else, you could manipulate who’s going to be on the court and that’s troublesome,” Roggensack said.