Wisconsin is currently counting votes in a state Supreme Court election, which has drawn an unusual amount of attention and a very high turnout (particularly for a judicial election) because, it is thought, who wins could make the difference over whether Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill, which limits the power of public employee’s unions, will be overturned by the high court. As I write, conservative David Prosser is leading liberal JoAnne Kloppenburg by fewer than 2000 votes out of over 1.4 million. (The tally is here.) At this point, it seems unlikely that either candidate will concede the election tonight.
I hope this illustrates why electing justices is a terrible idea. A high court justice’s job is to decide whether a law is compatible with a state constitution, not whether a law is a good idea. A referendum on the merits of a controversial policy is no way to pick the best person for that job.
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