The state Supreme Court has sided with business interests by rejecting calls for reform of the judicial code of conduct. In a 4-3 vote, the court approved rules allowing judges to hear cases involving their biggest campaign contributors.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson along with Justices Patrick Crooks and Ann Walsh Bradley were the dissenters. Bradley said the rules do not address concerns about bias in the judiciary.
While Justice Michael Gableman said the change is needed.
He was joined by Justices Annette Ziegler, Pat Roggensack and David Prosser in adopting the rules, which were written by the Wisconsin Realtors Association and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
During the emotional hearing, the high court rejected proposals from retired Justice Bill Bablitch and the League of Women Voters. Bablitch suggested withdrawing when a litigant had given $10,000 dollars. The League said a justice should pull out if a litigant had given $1,000 over a two-year period.
Gableman called the league a left-wing group which is trying to limit campaign speech and it wants government instead of voters to hold judges accountable for their ethics.
Jason Fischer contributed to this report