In 2018, something very important will take place in Wisconsin. Yes, there will be an election for a U.S. Senate seat, and there will be a gubernatorial election. Furthermore, there will also be contests for seats in the state legislature. And, the eight House of Representatives seats in Wisconsin will be up for re-election too. But, in addition to all that, there will be a competition to fill the seat currently held by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Justice Gableman, according to news reports, announced this year that he will not be seeking re-election. It is important for Wisconsinites to pay attention to this very important race, which will be decided in the spring, while the others mentioned above will be in the fall.
The Supreme Court is one of the three co-equal branches of government. At the federal level, in recent years, there have been intense disagreements in the legislative branch of government and (as we saw during the years of Obama administration) efforts by the executive branch to bypass Congress through executive orders and agency rule-making. Such struggles further highlight the importance of a fair court system. The nomination and confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for our country. As President Donald Trump said, Justice Gorsuch will be “a devoted servant of the law.” He truly is “a man of great and unquestioned integrity” (see link below for reference). Also at the state level, as challenges over key issues end up in the Supreme Court, it is essential to elect judges who will uphold the word of the law, free from personal political opinions.
In present-day America, the roles of judges have been increasingly brought up in intellectual discussion. Some see a Supreme Court justice as a public servant whose job is to determine if the action in question is constitutional or not, and refrain from judicial activism. Others may entertain, and even embrace, the idea of judges being super legislators, and may expect judges to make policies from the bench and to override the legislative process if and when the outcome of legislative policy-making is not favorable to certain political preference. The latter is a NOT what a Supreme Court justice should be.
In Wisconsin, voters must pay close attention to the candidates seeking to replace Justice Gableman. As we study and assess the qualifications, professional background, and judicial philosophy of the candidates, we should ask ourselves: which of these candidates would exercise judicial restraint? Which of these candidates would put aside personal political opinions and interpret the law in a fair and impartial manner? Judges are not there to make laws – and we must never forget that.
As a Wisconsinite, I will be following the details of the race for the state’s Supreme Court seat very closely, and I encourage others to do the same. It is essential that we make informed decision to ensure that the person elected to be the next Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is faithful to the Constitution.