If the U.S. Supreme Court were to take up a judicial recusal appeal from Wisconsin argued on the basis of Caperton v. Massey, it could help set ethics standards nationwide, a Mother Jones article says.
Caperton is a landmark Supreme Court ruling about runaway special interest spending in judicial elections. In the current legal dispute, reporter Pema Levy writes, the high court could be asked to decide whether two Wisconsin Supreme Court justices should have recused from a case involving a campaign finance investigation. The Wisconsin court’s ruling shut down the investigation of possible violation of campaign finance laws by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups in 2011 and 2012 recall elections.
The justices who declined to recuse had benefitted from spending by two of the groups involved in the investigation. Recently, three prosecutors signaled their desire to take an appeal of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling to the nation’s highest court in Washington.
If the U.S. Supreme Court “does consider a Caperton challenge to the situation in Wisconsin, it could not just determine whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court crossed the line when it came to conflicts of interest, but could help set ethical standards across the country in an era when judicial elections are increasingly fought with millions of dollars in outside spending,” according to Mother Jones.