Judge Michael Screnock: We need fair and impartial judiciary, not activist judges | Column


When I think about why I’m running to serve the people of Wisconsin on our state’s highest court, a lot comes to mind. I have always felt a duty to serve the public, dating back to my time as both a city administrator and finance director in the communities of Reedsburg, Washburn and Ashland, and I have always had a passion for the law, including serving as an attorney and helping individuals and businesses solve problems and untangle complex legal issues.

My heart for public service and my passion for the law converged when I accepted an appointment to the Sauk County Circuit Court in 2015. It is an honor and a privilege to serve my hometown of Baraboo in a role that is so critical to ensuring public safety in our community and upholding the rule of law.

More than anything, though, I think about my love for the Badger State. To me, Wisconsin is and always has been home. I am a product of our state — born in Wautoma, raised in Baraboo, a graduate of Baraboo High School, UW-Madison, and UW Law School. During my time in Madison, I played tuba in the UW Marching Band, and I enjoyed entertaining our Camp Randall crowds during Badger football games.

Our state, which in my opinion is the nation’s greatest, deserves an equally superior judicial system and high court. This requires a fair and impartial judiciary that guarantees equality of the law to all who come before the bench.

Far too often, we see a tendency from judges at all levels to rule with an activist bent, ultimately legislating from the bench by allowing their own personal biases to determine what is and isn’t good public policy. What these judges either fail to realize or just plain ignore when they make these decisions is that doing so couldn’t be further from the job they’ve all sworn an oath to do.

Judges are not legislators, nor are we executives. Our job as judges is to interpret and apply the law, based not on our personal or political beliefs, but by relying on statutes and the Constitution. Simply put, our job is to be arbiters of the law, not policy analysts or political activists.

Having an independent judiciary comprised of justices with an unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law, to recognizing and respecting the separation of powers, and to respecting the Constitution is critical to preserving and maintaining our democracy and our republic.

As a lifelong Wisconsin resident who has committed my life to public service — both as a judge and a local government official — I would consider it a tremendous honor to serve the people of our state as a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court by adhering to the judicial principles outlined above.

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Citizens across the Badger State deserve the security and predictability of an independent, nonpartisan judicial branch, made up of justices who under no circumstances legislate from the bench and who rely solely on statutes, the Constitution, and the rule of law when presiding over each and every case that comes before them. By electing me to the bench next spring, that is exactly what they will get.

Judge Michael Screnock was appointed to the Sauk County Circuit Court in 2015 and ran unopposed for election in 2016. He has enjoyed the privilege of serving his hometown in this capacity, and is particularly proud of the work Sauk County’s Drug Court has accomplished since its inception in 2016. He and his wife Karen live in Reedsburg, and they have three adult children.

Michael Screnock is a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He faces Tim Burns and Rebecca Dallet in the Feb. 20 primary election. A column by Tim Burns was published Feb. 12, and one by Rebecca Dallet ran Feb. 13. 

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