In another 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to end the practice of holding all court administrative conferences as meetings open to the public.
The rule was proposed by Justice Patience Roggensack and supported by Justices David Prosser, Annette Ziegler, and Michael Gableman. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson opposed the rule, along with Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Patrick Crooks.
The new rule allows for open conference only if a majority of the court agrees in closed conference or by email to discuss an administrative matter in an open conference.
Wisconsin has long been one of the only state supreme courts allowing administrative matters to be discussed in open conference. At times, the open conferences have highlighted the deep divisions among the Justices on the court. The discussion of the proposed rule itself exposed the dissention amongst the court members. Justice Roggensack argued, “To sit out here in public and philosophize… is really not the best use of our time.”
Justice Bradley disagreed, arguing that she could not think of any good public policy reasons for excluding members of the public.
Justice Gableman, who joined the majority, argued that the new rule would help build consensus among the Justices. Justice Ziegler, who also supported the rule, suggested that the current process of holding open conferences has hurt the court’s public image.
To review the new rules, click here.