A powerful business group that spent millions of dollars to help elect two Wisconsin Supreme Court justices is proposing a rule that would allow them to hear its cases.
The court will consider the rule proposed by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce during a public hearing Wednesday. Under the proposal, judges would not be required to step aside from cases involving groups or individuals no matter how much they spent to help their campaigns.
The rule would have immediate ramifications for two justices, Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman, who were backed by WMC when elected to the court in 2007 and 2008. The group spent an estimated $2.2 million advocating for Ziegler and $1.76 million for Gableman, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks campaign spending.
The proposal comes as the state high court is considering whether to write specific rules for when judges must recuse themselves in cases involving campaign supporters. Current rules are silent on the issue but advise judges to step aside when a reasonable observer would question their impartiality.