Wisconsin Supreme Court cuts stipends for judges who asked for tougher conflict standards

MADISON - Wisconsin’s Supreme Court abruptly cut stipends this month for reserve judges, reducing compensation for a group that tried to get the high court to strengthen its conflict-of-interest rules. 

In dissent, Justice Shirley Abrahamson suggested the cut to stipends could look like an effort to retaliate against reserve judges who recently urged the Supreme Court to tighten its rules on when judges and justices must step aside from cases because of conflicts of interest. She berated her colleagues for cutting the pay of reserve judges without taking their input.

Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns is making a campaign issue of the cut to stipends.

“Once again, the right-wing majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court shows a startling insensitivity to the appearance of impropriety,” Burns said in a statement. “Axing benefits of judges who shine the moral spotlight on the court worries citizens that we have a Wisconsin Supreme Court that will deal swiftly with judges who raise legitimate concerns.”