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State of Wisconsin

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Wisconsin

Campaign Conduct

According to Rule 60.06 of Wisconsin's code of judicial conduct, judges, judges-elect, and judicial candidates shall not:
  • With respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.
  • Knowingly or with reckless disregard for the statement's truth or falsity misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position, or other fact concerning themselves or their opponents.
  • Personally solicit or accept campaign contributions, but they may establish a committee to solicit and accept lawful campaign contributions.

Judicial candidates may personally solicit and accept endorsements.

In February 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin permanently enjoined enforcement of three provisions of the code regarding judicial campaigns on the grounds that they violate the First Amendment rights of candidates. Siefert v. Alexander, 08-CV-126. The provisions at issue bar judges and judicial candidates from being members of political parties, endorsing or speaking on behalf of candidates or political party platforms, and personally soliciting campaign contributions. In June 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit restored two of the rules--the rule barring endorsement of partisan candidates for office and the rule barring personal solicitation of campaign contributions. Siefert v. Alexander, No. 09-1713.