Just when you thought acrimony would endJustice Pat Roggensack is ready to seek a second 10-year term on the State Supreme Court.
By: By Matt Pommer, Superior Telegram
Justice Pat Roggensack is ready to seek a second 10-year term on the State Supreme Court.
The 72-year-old Roggensack is among the four conservative justices on the seven-member high court. A defeat could change the complexion of highly political issues certain to come before the high court.
In the distant past Supreme Court races were dull affairs but that has changed in more recent years.
Justice David Prosser, a former Republican speaker of the Assembly, won a narrow victory in the last high court election in April 2011.
The election provided drama because it was decided only after Waukesha County election officials discovered that some of the votes had not made it to the initial tally.
Prosser was involved in a controversy that still simmers unresolved in the high court. He put his hands on the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during the period when the justices were deciding how fast to act on allegations that the GOP-dominated Legislature had improperly rushed consideration of the legislation gutting public employee bargaining.
A complaint was filed against Prosser by the Judicial Commission, an independent body which reviews and investigates actions taken by the court. Its recommendations go to the Supreme Court — however, all but one of the justices saw the Prosser-Bradley incident and three, including Roggensack, recused themselves.
The issue has lingered over who would hear the complaint. Some suggest it never will be resolved.
This week’s vote in the presidential and U.S. Senate elections will indicate how closely Wisconsin is divided politically. A close election should not have been a surprise. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won Wisconsin’s electoral votes by 5,708 votes. In 2004 John Kerry won the state by 11,384 votes. Going into this year’s vote, the last Republican presidential candidate to carry Wisconsin was Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
The narrowness of the 2000 and 2004 elections probably plays in Republican Party thinking that Wisconsin voting laws should be tightened. Among the pro-GOP laws enacted was one requiring voters to show a photo ID when they got to the polls.
Critics suggest it would have discouraged minorities, the disabled, and some aged from trying to vote. Two Dane County judges in separate actions have found the photo ID provisions to violate Wisconsin’s constitution. The cases are on appeal.
To its credit the state Supreme Court resisted Republican requests to let the photo ID take effect before the appeals had been decided. The Republican rhetoric contended the law was necessary to prevent fraud.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker is among those who have claimed there is widespread voting fraud in Wisconsin. Despite the claims, no evidence has been produced to substantiate the fraud claims.
Also headed for the state Supreme Court is a circuit court case in which some provisions of the Republican collective-bargaining law have been ruled unconstitutional. Supreme Court decisions in those cases are likely to come during Roggensack’s current term on the high court.
Roggensack should be considered the favorite in her bid for re-election. In the last half-century, only two sitting justices have lost re-election bids. The latest was Louis Butler, the first black person to sit on the high court. He was denounced in large part because he had served as a defense lawyer.
The high court election occurs next April, and no opponent for Roggensack’s seat has come forward. Political pros suggest the challenger will need at least $2 million for a creditable race.