MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser will not hear a campaign finance case being argued next week by the attorney who represented him in a recount of his election victory.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that Prosser told parties involved in the case on Thursday that he would step aside. His one-sentence letter did not explain why he decided not to participate. That comes after Prosser asked the parties what he should do, and the Wisconsin Education Association Council asked that he step aside.
Tea party groups and other conservatives brought the case last year, arguing that new regulations on campaign financing violate First Amendment free speech rights.
The state Government Accountability Board has already said it will not enforce the most controversial parts of the regulations. Those rules would require more groups to disclose their spending and donors at election time.
Jim Troupis of Madison was Prosser’s attorney in the recount of his April 5 victory, and the attorney in the case scheduled for oral arguments Tuesday. He issued a statement Friday saying he was disappointed all seven members of the court wouldn’t be hearing the case, but he respected Prosser’s decision.
Prosser’s campaign paid Troupis more than $75,000 for his work in the recount, which affirmed Prosser’s victory in the election. He began his new 10-year term last month.
“The very unique and unprecedented events of this past year have led here to an unexpected, and unfortunate, result,” Troupis said in his statement. “The hundreds of attorneys and volunteers who worked to preserve Justice Prosser’s victory in the spring Supreme Court recount trust that Justice Prosser will make clear in the coming days that his recusal will be strictly limited to this one matter.”
Prosser’s decision not to be involved in the case raises the possibility that the justices will deadlock 3-3 on the case, which means the changes to regulations would likely remain in place.
The case comes at a tumultuous time for the court. In June, Prosser and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley got into a physical altercation. Prosser is part of a four-justice conservative majority on the court while Bradley is in the more liberal minority.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com