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Contact Us Home July 22, 2018
"Today, the opportunity to access justice in our courts is becoming as much a luxury as a Louis Vuitton bag."
ABA President Stephen Zack

Wisconsin Right to Life v. Brennan

The Wisconsin Right to Life v. Brennan suit focused on public financing for state judicial elections. Wisconsin Right to Life, a group opposed to legal abortion, challenged provisions of Wisconsin’s Impartial Justice Act, which was passed in 2009 after spending exploded in Wisconsin high-court races. Ultimately, Wisconsin budget cuts ended funding for public financing of Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin. Both sides asked for dismissal of the case immediately following the passage of the budget, citing the fact that there was no longer an active law to evaluate.

The group challenged three provisions, including matching triggered funds, which on June 27 were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. WRTL also challenged the law's campaign contribution limits, and reporting requirements for independent expenditures. An amicus brief by Justice at Stake sought to uphold the Wisconsin law. The brief argued that, unlike an Arizona law struck down by the high court, Wisconsin's law deals solely with the courts, and therefore the government has a more compelling state interest in avoiding the appearance of corruption.

Justice At Stake endorsed the Impartial Justice Act, saying it would protect judicial candidates from seeking contributions from major donors who might appear before them in court. Polls show that 76% of Americans believe campaign contributions have at least some impact on a judge’s courtroom decisions. When judicial candidates are required to amass large amounts of money from special-interest contributors, the public lacks reassurance that judges will not be beholden to the interests of their financial backers.

The positions and policies of Justice at Stake publications and campaign partners are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of other campaign partners or board members.
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