Candidates debate: Race for nonpartisan Wisconsin Supreme Court has turned political

MILWAUKEE — One candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court says the court is broken — and justices are sold to the highest bidder. That was one of the flashpoints at a debate in Milwaukee on Monday, March 26.

Rebecca Dallet, Michael Screnock

Millions of dollars are pouring into the race between Rebecca Dallet and Michael Screnock. The two spent Monday debating when they should step away from cases.

Dallet, a judge in Milwaukee County, said she will recuse herself from a lawsuit involving former President Barack Obama Attorney General Eric Holder’s group, which is spending big money to get Dallet elected. Last week, she wasn’t sure.

Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock

Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock said he will take it case-by-case. Screnock has the backing of the NRA, the Wisconsin Republican Party and Wisconsin’s largest business group.

“It would be inappropriate to make such a blanket pronouncement now without knowing what the case might be, what the circumstances might be,” Screnock said during the debate.

This race for the supposedly nonpartisan court has turned political. Republicans circulated audio of Dallet at a fundraiser in San Francisco last week.

“San Francisco, like this is awesome. I know your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way, and I appreciate that you’re all here,” Dallet said in the audio clip.

When FOX6 News asked Dallet to explain what she meant, she pivoted to Screnock.

Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet

“We have lost the values of fair and independent courts in our state,” Dallet said. “We have strayed from that and that has happened for the last decade and that is because the special interest money is buying justice or a justice.”

Time and again, Screnock said he was not being bought.

“My fidelity as a judge is to the law and the law alone,” Screnock said.

The candidates were asked about Wisconsin’s black incarceration rate. Dallet said the Supreme Court had a role to play in dealing with what she called racial bias. Screnock said only that he would support research on the issue.

The election is Tuesday, April 3. The person who wins earns a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.