With the Wisconsin Supreme Court election just around the corner, I’ve been waxing nostalgic about the era when the court was a non-partisan, transparent, choke-free zone. Those were the days. And while I’ve been told that times have changed and everything is political now, I refuse to accept the premise that our state Supreme Court has to be, too. That’s just one of the many reasons I support Ed Fallone‘s candidacy.
There are three candidates vying for a seat in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Patience Roggensack (the incumbent), Vince Megna, and Ed Fallone.
While Vince Megna may very well make a great Supreme Court Justice, I cannot, in good conscience, vote for anyone running as a partisan for a non-partisan position. Any candidate with a “D” or “R” after his or her name is automatically out, and since Megna is running as a Democrat, I cannot support him.
Patience Roggensack is the incumbent in this race, and while I do not hold her completely responsible for the dysfunction of the current Wisconsin State Supreme Court (see: “A Study in Judicial Dysfunction“), she is part of the problem.
Justice Roggensack has failed to recuse herself in cases in which she should have (she decided a case involving her own lawyer), and has recused herself from cases she shouldn’t have (she recused herself from the Prosser case).
Additionally, Roggensack voted to close the court’s discussion of administrative matters to the public. Closing to the public meetings which were once open breeds distrust and does not make for good public policy, and I cannot support a candidate who seems to oppose transparency.
With Roggensack and Megna out, that leaves Ed Fallone, and while it would be supremely depressing to vote for a candidate who is the lesser of the evils, that’s definitely not the case here.
I met Ed Fallone last weekend when he spoke at the OconDems meeting, as candidates of various viewpoints and persuasions often do, and I was impressed.
Fallone talked about the importance of non-partisanship in this race and made no apologies for his sane, rational, logical viewpoints. For example, when asked about a particular issue concerning religion, Fallone spoke in favor of the Separation of Church and State. That was damn refreshing to hear from a candidate speaking smack dab in the middle of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
I was also impressed by Fallone’s background. He’s the son of a Mexican immigrant; his father was a public school teacher; he and his wife are part of Wisconsin Stem Cell Now; he has led nonprofit organizations to help immigrants, the working poor, at-risk youth, and more.
Ed Fallone is the modern candidate.
He also really knows the law. He’s a law professor at Marquette Law school where he teaches Constitutional, Corporate and Criminal Law. ”For my entire career, I’ve been fighting to ensure all people have equal justice before the law,” he told The League of Women Voters of Dane County, Inc.
“No judge is a blank slate, and every judge is capable of setting aside their personal political and policy preferences in order to decide cases according to the law, ” he said. “However, the public rightly questions a judge’s impartiality where the judge has a financial interest in the result. I will abide by all ethics requirements that govern judges in Wisconsin.”
Fallone understands the importance of transparency and of earning the public’s trust. He explained, “The Court should resume its prior practice of discussing administrative matters in public. Much of the Court’s important work involves the administration of the State’s courts, and the Court’s decisions on these matters should be open and transparent.
In addition, a return to professionalism and collegiality among the members of the Court would greatly improve the operation of the Court. Tactics such as public bickering and the boycotting of meetings only serve to hamper productivity and diminish the Court in the eyes of the public.”
Music to my ears.
With Ed Fallone’s candidacy, we have a chance to begin the journey back toward a sane, non-partisan Wisconsin State Supreme Court. My hope is that voters recognize this opportunity and vote in the primary on February 19, 2013 and in the general on April 2, 2013. Elections have consequences, and the consequences of this particular election will be far-reaching.