On a 5-to-2 vote, Wisconsin Supreme Court justices have rejected a proposal to open up their conferences to public view. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson called a meeting Thursday to discuss ideas about creating civility among court members including open deliberations.
There has been some negative attention after contentious court elections and a recent physical altercation between two justices.
“Anytime people go behind closed doors other people are suspicious,” said Abrahamson, who believes transparency will rectify people’s negative perception of the court’s activities.
Justice Annette Ziegler said her and her colleagues “have a lot of good moments behind closed doors.” Ziegler emphasized the severity of the proposal as closed meetings have been a part of the court’s operation since its inception.
Justice N. Patrick Crooks also believes these private meetings are constructive in the decision process. He said the dialogue would be “greatly inhibited” if deliberations were under public scrutiny.
Justice Ann-Walsh Bradley, who favors transparency, suggested opening up some of the meetings to citizens but keeping decision conferences closed.
The plan put forth by Abrahamson would’ve made Wisconsin the only Supreme Court in the nation to allow deliberations to be made public.