Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tainting Justice With Politics - NYTimes.com

Tainting Justice With Politics - NYTimes.com

The furiously contested election of a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice shows, once again, how politics and money can debase the law.

Republicans are eagerly claiming victory after David Prosser, the conservative incumbent justice and former Republican Assembly speaker, apparently received about a half-percent more votes than JoAnne Kloppenburg, a state assistant attorney general. Democrats are challenging the results, while celebrating Ms. Kloppenburg’s strong showing as a rejection of Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme antiunion agenda.

Whoever ultimately gets the job, all of Wisconsin has lost. This nasty, highly politicized race is raising serious questions about the impartiality of the state’s highest court, which will likely rule on the new law eliminating most collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

Wisconsin is one of 22 states that elect the judges of the highest court. In recent years, millions of dollars have been pouring into these campaigns as special interests — businesses, unions, insurance companies and plaintiff’s attorneys, among others — seek to tilt the scales of justice.

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