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Department of Justice Files Brief Defending Wisconsin's Nonpartisan Judiciary

MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Department of Justice have filed a legal brief yesterday afternoon with the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin defending Wisconsin's one hundred year tradition of a nonpartisan judiciary and opposing the lawsuit and request for injunction filed by Circuit Court Judge John Siefert of Milwaukee.


"Wisconsin has chosen, since statehood, to elect its judges and since the early twentieth century those elections, and the Wisconsin judiciary itself, have been nonpartisan. Eliminating partisanship from the judiciary is the best, and perhaps only way, to assure that the judiciary is impartial and available to decide the significant matters presented to it while still permitting Wisconsin's citizens to select judges as they always have," Van Hollen argues in the brief.


A copy of the brief is attached.


Judge Siefert's lawsuit argues that the Wisconsin Judicial Code of Conduct rules prohibiting him from registering as a member of the Democratic Party and endorsing candidates in partisan elections violates his speech and freedom of association rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.


The named defendants are James Alexander, the Director of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, and the appointed members of the Commission.


2008 file: