Biased Justices Ruled on Wisconsin John Doe Case

July 16, 2015

The four justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who just dismissed the John Doe investigation concerning alleged coordination between Scott Walker and so-called outside groups were aided enormously by some of the very groups that were party to the John Doe case.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America—all of which are reportedly embroiled in the John Doe--together spent more than $8 million in support of Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Annette Ziegler, Justice Michael Gableman, and Justice David Prosser.

“It boggles the mind that these justices are essentially saying that they can somehow be impartial when these parties to the case were spending huge wads of cash to get them elected,” says Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “This doesn’t pass the smell test. The initials WMC are practically embroidered on their seats.”

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spent about $5.6 million on these four conservative justices:

$500,000 in support of Roggensack

$1,100,000 in support of Prosser

$1,760,000 in support of Gableman

$2,200,000 in support of Ziegler.

Wisconsin Club for Growth spent about $1.75 million on the four conservative justices:

$350,000 in support of Roggensack

$400,000 in support of Ziegler

$500,000 in support of Gableman

and $500,000 in support of Prosser.

Citizens for a Strong America spent about $1 million in support of Prosser in his tightly contested reelection race against JoAnne Kloppenburg in 2011.

Had any of those justices lost, the balance of the court would have shifted from conservative to liberal. In the two closest elections, Prosser won by about 7,000 votes and Gableman by about 20,000.

One of the John Doe prosecutors, Francis Schmitz, who voted for Scott Walker, had asked at least one of these justices to recuse themselves—to not hear the case because of their conflict of interest.

In a U.S. Supreme court ruling in 2009 in Caperton v. Massey, the highest court in the land said that judges must recuse themselves from cases involving a party that had a “significant and disproportionate influence” on the judge getting elected.

None of the four justices that dismissed the John Doe did so.