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Politics & Government

Former Justice Geske Concerned about Wisconsin Supreme Court


Following the results of Tuesday's Wisconsin Supreme Court Election in which incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack won another 10-year term, former Justice Janine Geske shared her thoughts about the race and concerns about the court.

Geske said the race did not rise anywhere near the level of the last few Supreme Court races in terms attempting to influence voters or in turn out, because of voter fatigue. "With voters having gone through a contentious gubernatorial race, recall races this past year and the presidential race, I think people are tired and were not engaged as much," Geske said.

In addition, Geske said it can be complicated to understand the dynamics of the court, the importance of the election and the differences between the candidates. She wishes more citizens would review their childhood civics lessons, to gain a better understanding of the court. "It is such an important position, both in terms of there are only seven justices and that they sit for 10 years," Geske said.

The Marquette Distinguished Professor of Law says the court of seven faces immense challenges - both in terms of issues likely headed its way, and in working together as a collegial body. The court is described as split ideologically - four conservatives and three liberals, and there have been personal confrontations between members.

Geske says the court's role is too important to Wisconsin, to not be functioning professionally. "The courts, are really the checks and balances on both the Legislative and Executive branch and frankly, anytime those branches of government are the same party, I think the court has a very important role to be a check and balance on the legislation and things that get past," Geske said.

Geske urges the justices to remain independent of political and partisan issues and "to make sure the constitution is followed and case law is followed, and to be able to give some stability to the law in the state, regardless of where the politics in the state are going, and to be protective of all the rights that belong to all the citizens," Geske told WUWM.

Among the issues the law professor foresees coming before the state high court: challenges to Act 10, school vouchers, voter ID and mining.