The Wisconsin Supreme Court, defined in recent years by polarization and reports of dysfunction, could be profoundly reshaped by an election on Tuesday. The outcome hinges on two choices — whether voters re-elect a justice who is seen as part of the court’s liberal minority and whether they approve a constitutional amendment that seems likely to lead to the installation of a conservative chief justice. The election is officially nonpartisan, but the ideological divides are clear. Money has poured in from far beyond Wisconsin, and harsh advertisements have filled the airwaves. Donations have poured in, including some from outside Wisconsin, and harsh advertisements have filled the state’s airwaves.
“My vision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and my vision of the judiciary is a nonpartisan judiciary, and I intend to stand up for that principle,” said Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the incumbent, who is seeking her third 10-year term. Many of Justice Bradley’s donors are prominent Democrats, and her campaign has accepted money from organized labor.
Her opponent, Judge James Daley, a former prosecutor serving on a state circuit court, said that Justice Bradley was motivated by “extreme liberal personal politics” and that he was the reformer on the ballot. Judge Daley’s campaign has received donations from the Republican Party, and he has met with Republican groups on the campaign trail.