State Bar: Let’s Have Term Limits For Supreme Court Justices


A proposal to impose term limits on Wisconsin Supreme Court justices is getting mixed reactions from legislators and judicial reform advocates.

A study committee from the state bar association calls for amending the state Constitution to limit high court justices to one 16-year term. Wisconsin would be the first state to do so according to K.O. Myers of the American Judicature Society. He says a term limit could reduce the influence of money and political pressure that the current unlimited 10-year terms are open to.

Myers: “It doesn’t eliminate politics completely, because the judge would have to campaign and raise money to get elected in the first place. But once they’re on the bench they wouldn’t have to worry about those pressures.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

But others see a downside to term limits. Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, is working on several bills he hopes will prevent justices from bowing to money or politics in their rulings. He says term limits deny voters the right to choose to keep someone in office who is doing a good job.

Hebl says requiring public financing of judicial elections would be more effective than term limits if the goal is to reduce the influence of politics and money on the judiciary.

The bar’s proposed amendment would have to be passed by the legislature in two consecutive sessions and then approved by the public in a referendum.