1. Committee looks at judicial recusal rules
2. State Supreme Court to decide about issue ad disclosure
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The League of Women Voters' 2008 proposal for a judicial recusal rule was cited often Thursday by experts speaking to the Joint Legislative Council's study committee on judicial discipline and recusal. The state League's director is a member of the committee, which heard testimonies from four Supreme Court justices, the State Public Defender's office, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and others. You can view the meeting on WisconsinEye. The committee will have a public hearing October 14.
According to Common Cause in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court is expected to decide today about whether or not they will take jurisdiction over the Government Accountability Board (GAB) rule which would require organizations trying to influence the outcome of elections through so-called "issue ads" to disclose their donors and register with the state. The League has strongly supported the rule, which would provide voters with valuable information to assess the ads that flood the airwaves before an election.
The rule went into effect August 1 and was immediately challenged in federal court by Wisconsin Club for Growth and One Wisconsin Now. No sooner had the GAB settled with those groups, than a collection of conservative groups petitioned the Supreme Court to order a halt to the rule. Ignoring the principle of comity, the Supreme Court stepped into this issue before federal court and issued a temporary injunction on a 4-3 vote. Meanwhile voters cannot discern whether funding for the ads comes from their neighbors or from out of state, from groups concerned about the public good or those concerned mostly about their own profits.
In the wake of the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, the League of Women Voters calls disclosure "the most basic step toward protecting the role of the voter in making decisions in elections."