Candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court navigate partisan trend

Campaigns for the state's high court, while officially nonpartisan, have been tinged with partisan elements for decades. For years, candidates quietly received support along largely party lines while stressing their independent nature. 

That changed with Madison attorney Tim Burns, who has made his Democratic politics a key element of his pitch to voters. Burns faces liberal-leaning Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet and conservative-leaning Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock in the Feb. 20 primary election. The two top vote-getters will face off in the April 3 general election. The winner will replace Justice Michael Gableman, who is not seeking another 10-year term.

The Cap Times spoke with all three candidates about the race, their experience and their philosophies.

Burns said he has seen equal opportunity for all disappear over the course of his adult life.

"I'm the grandchild of Mississippi sharecroppers. My father got a fifth grade education, my mom a 10th grade education. I know I wouldn’t be one of the top lawyers in the country but for the broad middle class of my childhood that included folks like us and provided us with good public libraries and public schools," Burns said, adding that courts shape the country's economy and political system.