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Two rules petitions not to be heard April 21

Madison, Wisconsin - January 16, 2009

The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided Wednesday not to proceed with hearings on two rules petitions concerning campaign contributions and recusals.

The Court had tentatively set an April 21 hearing date on rules petitions 08-16 and 08-25, filed by the League of Women Voters and Wisconsin Realtors Association, Inc., respectively.

After the Court scheduled the hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted and scheduled oral argument in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Docket No. 08-22, on Tuesday, March 3.

The following question is before the U.S. Supreme Court in Caperton: 

Justice Brent Benjamin of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia refused to recuse himself from the appeal of the $50 million jury verdict in this case, even though the CEO of the lead defendant spent $3 million supporting his (justice Benjamin’s) campaign for a seat on the court--more than 60 percent of the total amount spent to support Justice Benjamin's campaign-- while preparing to appeal the verdict against his company. After winning election to the court, Justice Benjamin cast the deciding vote in the court's 3-2 decision overturning that verdict. The question presented is whether Justice Benjamin's failure to recuse himself from participation in his principal financial supporter's case violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

Merit and Amicus briefs in Caperton can be found through the American Bar Association at: http://www.abanet.org/publiced/preview/briefs/feb09.shtml#0822 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will determine at a later date how it may proceed with the pending rules petitions.

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