By Steve Schuster
May 1 “Law Day” is only a couple of days away and the State Bar of Wisconsin leadership is asking for your help to support democracy.
“Law Day is a national day to celebrate the rule of law in a free society,” writes the State Bar of Wisconsin.
“Democracy and the rule of law seem to be in retreat throughout the world,” writes Margaret Wrenn Hickey, president of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and Larry Martin, executive director and CEO of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
As Wisconsin sits on the brink of a constitutional crisis while courts face unprecedented district attorney and public defender shortages, Hickey and Martin are asking the legal community to make a positive difference in supporting democracy.
“The past few elections – local, state, and national – have been chaotic and challenging to say the least. Past (and future) attacks on the U.S. Supreme Court, voter rights, and court systems are disturbing,” the State Bar leaders said.
The State Bar of Wisconsin is not alone with taking notice of the erosion of American democracy and Wisconsin has been in the national political spotlight for that very reason.
On April 1, just three days before the hotly contested Wisconsin Supreme Court election, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appeared in Wisconsin at various campaign events waxing poetic about how the rest of the nation is looking at Wisconsin to save our nation’s democracy.
“This is a state where progressivism was started with Robert La Follette. This is where it all began. People around the country looked to Wisconsin for how democracy should be perfected. And now, people are looking at Wisconsin yet again, to see how democracy can be saved. That is what’s at stake,” said Holder during a campaign event for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz.
In her campaign victory speech, Protasietiz said, “Today’s results mean two very important and special things. First, it means that Wisconsin voters have made their voice heard. They’ve chosen to reject partisan extremism in their state. And second, it means that democracy will always prevail,” she said.
“Too many have tried to overturn the will of the people in our state. Today’s result shows that Wisconsinites believe in democracy and the democratic process,” Protasiewicz added.
In 2022, The Associated Press reported that saving democracy was a central theme around Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers re-election campaign and elected officials in several other states made similar statements.
Back in Madison, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Annette Ziegler said that Law Day is also an opportunity help educate the public.
“Law Day is a great a great opportunity to promote public understanding of our legal system and the work of the courts all year round,” she said in a written statement.
Ziegler noted that the American Bar Association is promoting a 12-minute YouTube video of proceedings from the courtrooms of four Milwaukee County Circuit Court judges.
“The combined footage was shot live in 2014 as a training tool for judges and court staff. However, the video also offers a look inside court proceedings and procedures,” Zieger said.
The judges discuss each step in detail as it happens in the courtroom: