Next month's state Supreme Court election got a lot more interesting in the last two weeks. On the surface the contest is between sitting Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg and will decide whether the conservative faction on the high court maintains its majority or control of the court swings to the left. But with historic demonstrations erupting over Governor Scott Walker's union-busting "budget repair" bill, this election will be more than anything a referendum on Walker.
Prosser has a Scott problem, to put it mildly. In announcing last December that he was hiring a Republican operative to run his reelection campaign, Prosser made no bones about the fact that he sees himself as a teammate of Scott Walker and his GOP allies in the Legislature. Despite the fact the Supreme Court is supposed to be a nonpartisan office and despite the constitutional separation of powers between co-equal branches of government that is central to the checks and balances in our system, Prosser said if reelected he would be "acting as a common sense complement to both the new administration and Legislature."
Prosser already has demonstrated his loyalty, siding with two of Walker's biggest political supporters – Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association – in voting for new judicial ethics rules written by the two groups allowing Wisconsin judges to rule on cases involving their biggest campaign supporters.
Walker is not the only Scott who looms large in Prosser's reelection bid. Prosser is an ex-Assembly speaker who agreed to serve as a character witness for Scott Jensen when his friend and former colleague was accused of criminal misconduct in public office. Prosser also was prepared to testify that when he was speaker he did the same things Jensen was criminally charged for.