GOP Wants Investigation Of Judge In Voter ID Case

The Republican Party of Wisconsin is asking for an investigation into a Dane County judge for signing a petition in November to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The Republican Party filed a formal complaint with the state’s Judicial Commission to investigate Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan following the judge’s ruling to temporarily stop the state’s new voter identification law.

They said Flanagan failed to maintain impartiality. Flanagan isn’t commenting on the issue, but others allege that he violated a judicial code of ethics.

However, not everyone believes there is a conflict of interest.

“Judge David Flanagan made public his political opposition to a defendant in a case in which he was presiding,” said Ben Sparks, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin said that Flanagan should have disclosed his signature on a recall petition against the governor or recused himself from the case.

“Judges are set to a higher standard of conduct than regular citizens,” said Sparks. “They have a duty over who they preside to be impartial.”

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske said it’s not as concerning as some may think, but she said she believes there should have been some disclosure.

“I wish he would have disclosed it at the beginning of the case so all the parties would have known, and if someone wanted to make an argument he couldn’t hear the case he could have heard it and decided it before he issued the lengthy and very well-thought-out decision,” said Geske.

Ralph Cagle, a University of Wisconsin law professor, said Wednesday he didn’t think even that disclosure was necessary, saying that the issue the judge was deciding was separate from the governor altogether.

The judicial commission would not comment on the case Wednesday, but it likely won’t come before the commission until its next meeting at the end of April.

Wisconsin’s attorney general said he will appeal the judge’s ruling to stop the state’s new voter identification law.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Wednesday he will move quickly to bring the ruling before an appellate court. He said he is confident the law will be upheld, calling it “properly enacted and legally sufficient.”

The NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera filed the lawsuit over the voter ID law last year, naming Walker as a defendant. The attorney for the NAACP said Wednesday that he didn’t believe there was any violation, and called the judge fair and impartial.