Credibility

To the Editor,

Assembly Joint Resolution One, would require a majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to elect a Chief Justice for a twoyear term. The Constitution has provided, for at least 125 years, that the “longest . . . continuous member of said court” shall serve in that capacity.

As a lawyer, student of legal and constitutional history, and a long time observer of the Court, I believe the amendment would be a serious mistake.

The Court has been plagued for many years by reports of friction and personal animosity between members of the Court. The potential for additional infighting over who should be elected as Chief Justice can only generate additional tensions and distractions for members of the Court that will further undermine its credibility and legitimacy as an institution.

The proposed amendment would also undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the Court for another reason. It appears to be a partisan attempt to reduce the role of the current Chief Justice, at a time when the Court is already perceived by too many as a partisan, rather than an independent, arbiter of the law.

This perception can only be exacerbated by the fact that the Court is on the threshold of considering a number of cases arising from the “John Doe” investigation that have political implications.

In my view,confidence in the rule of law will suffer if this amendment is adopted.

Atty Frederick B. Wade
Madison


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