A large group of retired judges are calling on the state Supreme Court to require members of the judiciary to step aside in cases that involve major donors to their campaigns.
A total of 54 former judges have signed on to a petition sent to the state Supreme Court, which sets recusal rules. They want circuit judges who received at least $1,000 from someone involved in a case to remove themselves, while the threshold for appellate judges would be $2,500 and $10,000 for Supreme Court justices.
Jay Heck with the government watchdog group Common Cause thinks it’s a good idea. “If a judge has received a campaign contribution, but then doesn’t step aside if that person comes before them, then people have a right to be suspicious about that,” he argues.
Heck says the proposed limits are reasonable and a good start, although he would still like to see a lower threshold set for Supreme Court justices. “Even those elected judges to the Wisconsin Supreme Court would be wise to adopt a rule like this, because I think a lot of people just don’t have great confidence that their decisions are impartial.”
The chances of justices acting on the request are highly unlikely. The last time the Supreme Court discussed the issue, the conservative majority determined that having received a donation from someone involved in a case was not enough of a reason to recuse themselves.
Affiliate WHBY contributed to this report.