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Corriher writes: "Chisholm v. Two Unnamed Petitioners asks whether conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court violated the Constitution by failing to recuse from a criminal investigation targeting groups that spent millions of dollars to get them elected."

'The U.S. Supreme Court bears a particular burden when state supreme courts engage in questionable practices.' (photo: IStock)
'The U.S. Supreme Court bears a particular burden when state supreme courts engage in questionable practices.' (photo: IStock)


Are Judges for Sale? The Supreme Court Could Decide in Pending Corruption Case.

By Billy Corriher, ThinkProgress

25 September 16

 

he eight Supreme Court justices will return from their summer vacations Monday to consider a backlog of petitions asking the Court to review a pile of cases. One of these cases, Chisholm v. Two Unnamed Petitioners, asks whether conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court violated the Constitution by failing to recuse from a criminal investigation targeting groups that spent millions of dollars to get them elected.

The case arises out of a campaign finance investigation into whether Gov. Scott Walker and other legislators illegally “coordinated” their campaigns with outside groups, some of which could accept unlimited, secret donations. Newly leaked documents suggest close ties between these groups and the Wisconsin governor’s campaign. They also suggest similar ties between the groups and a recently retired member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Prosecutors suspect that two Wisconsin justices who heard the case involving the Walker investigation, now-retired Justice David Prosser and current Justice Michael Gableman, may have committed the same offense that is at the heart of the Walker case by coordinating their own campaigns with the same groups. Nevertheless, Prosser and Gableman refused to sit out the case, and they later voted to shut down the Walker investigation in July 2015.

Additionally, the state supreme court required extensive redactions in the court filings and also ordered prosecutors to “permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation.” The court later backtracked on its order to destroy the evidence, and The Guardian obtained much of this information and published it last week.

Among other things, the leaked documents show that Walker steered donors to give six-figure checks to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a nonprofit operating under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. One of the donors even wrote “Because Scott Walker asked” on the subject line of his check to the group. An email from Walker to GOP strategist Karl Rove noted that RJ Johnson—who The Guardian described as a central figure in both Walker’s campaign and the Wisconsin Club for Growth—“ran the effort” to elect Justice Gableman in 2008. The email also said the club “was the key to retaining Justice Prosser.”

In justifying their decision not to recuse from this case, Prosser and Gableman cited a Wisconsin Supreme Court rule on cases involving campaign contributors that was literally written by one of the groups at issue in this case—Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. Under this rule, campaign contributions can never be the sole basis for a judge’s recusal. When the rule was put in place dissenting Justice Ann Walsh Bradley criticized her colleagues for adopting “word-for-word the script of special interests that may want to sway the results of future judicial campaigns.”

Prosecutors argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should intervene, citing fairly recent precedents limiting judges’ ability to sit on cases involving their campaign benefactors. In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a West Virginia justice violated the Constitution by hearing a case involving a coal company whose CEO spent $3 million to get him elected. Even if the justice was not actually biased, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Caperton v. Massey Coal, the “risk of actual bias” violated the other party’s Due Process rights.

The conflict of interest in this case is similar to the one in Caperton, as parties to both cases spent millions to elect the judges. Wisconsin Justices David Prosser and Michael Gableman benefited from around $2 million worth of outside spending in each of their last elections, while Justice Gableman’s campaign spent just over $400,000, and like the West Virginia justice, the two justices narrowly won their elections after the cash poured in.

The U.S. Supreme Court bears a particular burden when state supreme courts engage in questionable practices, as it is the only Court that can review a state supreme court’s decision. The justices will soon decide whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court has the final word in this case.


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+14 # REDPILLED 2016-09-25 09:30
Do bears defecate in the woods?
 
 
+14 # guomashi 2016-09-25 09:32
Is there such a thing as an honest republican?
The ideology of the republican party is to make money.
Why would anyone not expect abuse of principle from them?
 
 
+2 # indian weaver 2016-09-25 14:07
Is there such a thing as an honest Obama? No, just for discussion's sake, let's be real and address the dishonesty of the ENTIRE government and both parties, no difference when scrutinized.
 
 
+7 # guomashi 2016-09-25 18:26
Quoting indian weaver:
Is there such a thing as an honest Obama? No, just for discussion's sake, let's be real and address the dishonesty of the ENTIRE government and both parties, no difference when scrutinized.


I don't think it's possible for the Republicans to produce a Carter or a Sanders.
Nobody is perfect, but Carter had solar panels on the White House decades ago, etc.
I will grant you that the DNC of late has been no better than the RNC.
That being said, I can think of no honest republicans.
 
 
+5 # MainStreetMentor 2016-09-25 11:31
I have a disdain for Republican/Tea Party philosophies. I hold in contempt persons who abuse or misapply authorizations entrusted to them. Having made that statement, whether we like it or not, corruption occurs irrespective of political boundaries or doctrines. Corruption occurs when the individual involved has a penchant for such action. I would like to say it occurs more frequently with conservatives, but … I can’t prove that. We mustn’t get to the point where we throw the baby out with the bathwater – or we become the same as the miscreants. If you and I want a fair and level playing field, we must ourselves be fair in our assessments. I think we will all do what we can to assist in weeding out of corruption on any judicial bench – but we must do it fairly and without prejudice.
 
 
0 # Tigre1 2016-09-25 11:50
WE all need to disabuse ourselves of any illusion that many million acts of selfishness multiply into better civic lives for all of us.
Fortunately, a group that relies on purer selfishness must ultimately lose its cohesion.
 
 
0 # Tigre1 2016-09-25 11:57
I most emphatically opine that the DO
J is corrupt, that even Supreme Court Judges are susceptible to big money...its hospitality and groaning board and open bar, and comped rooms at a local bordello in Nevada, where a recently deceased Supe honed his relationship skills with common folk. At least one conservative mouthpiece wife of a Supe has made great profit on selling tidbits of 'pillow talk' with her spouse. Yeah, DOJ can and as been corrupted.

Perhaps more women on the Supremes would improve our civic life; at least women wouldn't be tempted by the same old simple blandishments.
 
 
+3 # guomashi 2016-09-25 13:04
Two words: Hillary Clinton.

Women aren't going to save anyone from anything. They are just as bad as men.
Finally you have your equality.
 
 
+5 # lfeuille 2016-09-25 17:09
Sandra Day O'Conner voted to make George W. President. That was about as corrupt and nonsensical decision that has ever been handed down. Being a woman did not prevent her from doing it.
 
 
+4 # reiverpacific 2016-09-25 12:19
Well, judges are hardly "Sea-green" incorruptibles, as Robespierre was called until the people turned against him for becoming a one-man, elitist tribunal, even sending his cohort Danton to the "National Razor" whom he followed in his turn.
Ask Leonard Peltier about prejudiced and corrupt "Lawyers with robes" as I call them, just for one.
 
 
+2 # librarian1984 2016-09-26 09:08
It's pathetic that intelligent, talented people are bought so cheaply, selling out America for drinks and perqs.
 

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