u.s. supreme court building

Scott Walker’s Record on Justice System Issues

For Gov. Scott Walker, the Justice System Is Not About Ensuring All Are Equal Before the Law

For Gov. Scott Walker, the justice system is not about ensuring all are equal before the law, but rather how can he manipulate the system for the benefit of his political career and the special interests that underwrite him. In fact he kicked off his first term as Governor by introducing as his first bill legislation to roll back consumer’s ability to hold corporations and special interests liable for injuries they may cause by their negligence. He even tried to pass a law that would provide immunity from liability for drug manufacturers.

And Walker hasn’t just restricted himself to changing the laws about the courts, he’s tried to shape who’s making the decisions, supporting efforts to elect conservative judges and even going so far as change the state constitution to remove the sitting Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In a particularly petulant stunt revealing the partisan lens that filters Walker’s view of the justice system he threatened to stop appointing judges to fill vacancies in the Democratic stronghold of Dane County because his nominees failed to win re-election.

Will Johnson Call on Walker to Wait for Wis. Justice Appointment?

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson has been front and center with Washington D.C. Republicans refusing to do their jobs on President Obama’s nominee to the U. S. Supreme Court. Johnson has attempted to excuse his unprecedented gridlock claiming President Obama, serving a four year term won with the votes of 65 million Americans, should not make a nomination as required by the U.S. Constitution, instead waiting until after the next election to fill the court vacancy. With right-wing state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser’s abrupt, mid-term retirement One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross wondered if Johnson will also advise Gov. Scott Walker to wait until after the next gubernatorial election to fill the state vacancy.

[One Wisconsin Institute, 04/29/2016]

Walker Spreads Cronyism to Supreme Court, Appoints Bradley

Putting political advantage and cronyism before qualifications, Gov. Scott Walker announced today he has appointed Rebecca Bradley to the open seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. Bradley, an announced candidate for the court in 2016, has been appointed by Walker to the only other judicial positions she has held and was one of only three applicants for a position on the high court.

[One Wisconsin Now, 10/09/2015]

Walker previews more partisanship on court

 Gov. Scott Walker appears set to add to his record of cronyism, corruption and incompetence with the appointment of his political crony, Rebecca Bradley, to yet another judicial post, time a seat on the state’s high court. Bradley has been appointed by Walker to both of the seats she has held in her brief career as a judge and is an announced candidate for the Spring 2016 Wisconsin Supreme Court seat to which Walker appears poised to appoint her.

[One Wisconsin Now, 10/05/2015]

Did Walker Gang Just Use $10 Million ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Card?

Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and outside groups accused of illegally coordinating campaign activities were let off the hook today by four justices of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. The four justices whose opinion halts an investigation and possible prosecution of Walker's campaign and allies and orders records to be destroyed were the beneficiaries of at least $10 million in campaign spending by parties named in the investigation.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/16/2015]

The Best Defense Money Can Buy

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, with Justice Ann Walsh Bradley abstaining, has voted to hear several appeals related to the criminal investigation of collusion between the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and outside groups. According to news reports, one of the appellants whose case the court has voted to hear is R.J. Johnson, a paid political consultant for Gov. Walker who also directed the Club for Growth (CFG) Wisconsin, a group that spent millions to help elect Walker and several of the justices voting to hear the case.

[One Wisconsin Now, 12/17/2014]

Is Scott Walker Already Breaking Another Campaign Promise?

Leading up to the November 4 election, Gov. Scott Walker stated if re-elected he was not interested in pursuing legislation to further restrict the rights of Wisconsin workers. Yet less than one month after he survived a heated re-election bid, a new group with ties to a right-wing, big money cabal that underwrites conservative causes and has supported Gov. Walker, announced it will work to pass legislation to further restrict workplace rights in Wisconsin.

[One Wisconsin Now, 12/01/2014]

#TBT Eight Million Reasons Four WI Supreme Court Justices Must Recuse in Walker-John Doe Case

A reminder from April 14 of how four of seven Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices owe their current elected position to the millions of dollars in spending in their races by the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce. Gov. Scott Walker has previously asked the appeal of the Peterson ruling go directly to the state Supreme Court.

[One Wisconsin Now, 09/25/2014]

One Wisconsin Institute Files in Ongoing Voter ID Federal Court Case

 In an amicus brief filed today with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Frank v. Walker, One Wisconsin Institute shares research with the court demonstrating Wisconsin citizens have significantly less access to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain a state identification than citizens in Indiana. According to One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross, the comparison is critical to differentiating Wisconsin from Indiana, where a split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that state’s voter ID law.

[One Wisconsin Institute, 09/22/2014]

A Supreme Truth: Voter ID Is Voter Suppression

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court’s decision on Gov. Scott Walker’s discriminatory Voter Identification bill utterly ignores the inaccessibility of Department of Motor Vehicles, compared to Indiana, where the law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. While today’s action will have no immediate effect on voters due to a federal case before the courts, several facts make the state courts ruling all the more alarming.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/31/2014]

Corporate Special Interests, Gov. Walker Buy Supreme Court Victory Over Workers, Voters

 Today’s state Supreme Court decisions supporting Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on workers and voters were spearheaded by a four-member majority bloc that was elected through $8 million in spending by two of Walker’s biggest special interest supporters – Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/31/2014]

Where There's a WILL, There's a Way... to Promote Walker's Best Interests

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is not simply a conservative, public interest law firm. It is a virtual extension of the political apparatus surrounding Gov. Scott Walker, engaging in ‘issue litigation’ to advance and protect his interests.

[One Wisconsin Now, 07/11/2014]

Did Gov. Walker Raise Money to Help Elect State Supreme Court Justice?

 In comments reported by the news service WisPolitics.com, Gov. Scott Walker admitted he personally solicited contributions for the Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCFG) in 2011 and 2012. During early 2011, WCFG spent an estimated $320,000 plus in advertising surrounding Justice David Prosser's re-election race, and funded the entire budget of another group, Citizens for a Strong America (CSA), that spent over $800,000.

[One Wisconsin Now, 06/27/2014]

Walker Ousted GAB Chair After Vote to Proceed with Investigation

 Just released filings related to the ongoing John Doe investigation into allegations of illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and a host of conservative organizations show Gov. Walker withdrew his own 2011 appointment of then-Government Accountability Board Chair David Deininger following a unanimous vote by the board to proceed with an investigation of the allegations.

[One Wisconsin Now, 04/16/2014]

Eight Million Reasons Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Should Recuse

 One Wisconsin Now has filed a formal letter with the seven justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, urging four of the court's justices to recuse themselves from a legal request by the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker related to the ongoing John Doe investigation surrounding allegations of illegal coordination between Republican-aligned groups during the recall of Walker.

[One Wisconsin Now, 04/14/2014]

Scott Walker campaign asks Supreme Court to intervene in ‘John Doe’ investigation

Citing numbers from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, OWN executive director Scot Ross noted the four-member conservative majority on the court had benefited from millions of dollars in outside spending by the groups targeted by the investigation. “The parties that Gov. Walker’s legal appeal would protect from investigation have spent millions to put a right-wing majority on the court,” Ross said. “It would be an unprecedented assault on ethical government and the integrity of the court if these same justices took the case and participated in a decision.”

[Wisconsin State Journal, 04/12/2014]

Gov. Walker and Special Interest Pals Go Venue Shopping for Friendly Court

 Defense lawyers for Gov. Walker are reportedly appealing to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and its right-wing majority, to try to protect him from prosecutors investigating alleged illegal coordination between his campaign and right-wing groups. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross questioned whether the conservative court majority might be too friendly with Gov. Walker and groups targeted in the probe to credibly take or judge the case.

[One Wisconsin Now, 04/11/2014]

Signed Bill That Put Liability Limits in Tort Actions Above Protecting Health of Wisconsinites, Particularly...

Signed a bill that set limits on liability in tort actions and failed to protect veterans who become sick as a result of asbestos exposure during military service and for a bill that creates discovery and scheduling requirements for certain types of tort actions and limits a defendant's liability for a plaintiff's injury under certain circumstances. Under the bill, a plaintiff who files a tort action must disclose, within 30 days after he or she files the action, whether he or she has filed or anticipates filing a claim against a personal injury trust. The bill particularly impacts persons seeking damages related to asbestos claims.

[2013 AB 19, Senate Vote, 01/01/2013]

37 Days Since Gov. Walker Announced He “Lawyered-Up” in Criminal Investigation of Administration,...

In early February, Gov. Scott Walker announced he had “lawyered-up” in the ongoing criminal investigation of his administration, retaining two high profile criminal defense attorneys. His continuing refusal to disclose how he is paying for his lawyers, whose billing rates could approach $1,000 per-hour, raises troubling ethical concerns, according to One Wisconsin Now Deputy Director Mike Browne.

[One Wisconsin Now, 03/08/2012]

Walker Capped Attorney Fees

Walker signed into law a bill which would limit attorneys’ fees to three times the amount of compensatory damages. (2011 September Special Session SB 12, introduced 10/11/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call)

[2011 WI Act 92, 12/07/2011]

Committee considers litigation reform bills

Opponents of a pair of Republican-backed litigation reform bills argued before a state Assembly committee Friday that the proposals will gut consumer protection laws and effectively stop the filing of lawsuits against companies that break the law. One measure would limit the amount plaintiff's attorneys can charge in some cases to three times the amount of any monetary award. Another would lower the amount of interest that people who successfully sue for injuries can collect on their judgments, while the higher interest rate would remain for judgments awarded to banks and credit card companies that take their customers to court….Another lawsuit reform bill not heard on Friday but backed by Walker and Republicans would give drug-makers and medical device manufacturers immunity from lawsuits if their products had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The immunity would not be granted if they committed fraud. Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie has defended the bills, saying they deal with the type of claims that affect job creators for the long term and the changes proposed will "help create certainty and confidence in the state's legal climate."

[Associated Press, 10/21/2011]

Walker falsely claimed tort reform was employers’ top issue

In trying to tie the lawsuit reforms to job creation, Walker asserted the issue is "one of the most important factors" when businesses are deciding to expand or invest in Wisconsin. That’s a major overreach. He cited a series of national surveys, which show it’s a concern but lack Wisconsin data and don’t weigh how the concern stacks up against other issues. In the surveys of state businesses we found, lawsuit reform is on the radar screen -- but a blip behind taxes, regulation and other issues. We rate Walker's claim False.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/02/2011]

Walker Weakened Victims’ Ability to Recover Damages in Lawsuits

Walker signed into law a bill that limited the amount of damages victims can receive in lawsuits, including: Limit non-economic damages - payments for loss of companionship, mental distress and pain and suffering - to $750,000 in medical malpractice cases at nursing homes. That limit matches the one already in place for other types of medical malpractice cases; limit punitive damages to $200,000 or double the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is higher; raise the threshold for winning punitive damages in lawsuits so that plaintiffs would have to prove that defendants acted "with intent to cause injury to a particular person" or with a knowledge that their action would lead to that result. Now, plaintiffs have a lower threshold of proving that defendants acted maliciously or with intentional disregard for the rights of victims; Prevent reports required by state regulators, or statements from employees of a health care provider, from being used as evidence in civil and criminal actions; Raise the standards for qualifying people as experts when they give court testimony; Block lawsuits from proceeding in cases where plaintiffs cannot prove who harmed them. The change was a response to a 2005 state Supreme Court decision that allowed a case against seven paint manufacturers to advance to trial even though the plaintiff could not prove who made the lead-based paints that he said poisoned him as a child. (2011 January Special Session SB 1, introduced 1/5/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) [2011 WI Act 2, 01/27/2011]

ALEC Commends Gov. Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signed into law today Special Session Senate Bill 1, legislation aimed at reforming the state's civil justice system. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) commended newly-elected Gov. Walker and the new Wisconsin legislature for their leadership in responding quickly to their mandate to restore business confidence and for making tort reform one of their top priorities to achieve this goal. "Wisconsin's legislature and Gov. Walker should be lauded for their immediate attention to reforming the state's legal system. They are the first of many states expected to consider such tort reforms as part of job creation packages in 2011," said Amy Kjose, ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force Director. "Reforming state legal systems is often a budget-neutral way, or sometimes even a budget-positive way, to restore confidence for businesses as the economy struggles to recover." The bill comes at a critical time, when Gov. Walker called the legislature into special session for the express purpose of decreasing burdens on business and reigniting the state's sluggish economy. This bill is a strong piece of reform legislation that will have a significant impact on Wisconsin's legal climate and economic viability.

[ALEC, 01/27/2011]