In a series of landmark decisions [in the past year], the court:
• Rewrote the rational basis test for evaluating challenges to state statutes under the Wisconsin Constitution, striking down the statutory limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases;
• Eliminated the individual causation requirement for tort liability in lawsuits against manufacturers of lead-paint pigment, expanding "risk contribution" theory, a form of collective industry liability;
• Expanded the scope of the exclusionary rule under the state constitution to require suppression of physical evidence obtained as a result of law enforcement's failure to administer Miranda warnings;
• Declared a common police identification procedure inherently suggestive and the resulting identification evidence generally inadmissible in criminal prosecutions under the state constitution's due process clause;
• Invoked the court's supervisory authority over the state court system to impose a new rule on law enforcement that all juvenile custodial interrogations be electronically recorded....
The terms "modesty" and "restraint"- the watchwords of today's judicial mainstream - seem to be missing from the Wisconsin Supreme Court's current vocabulary. Instead, the court has adopted a more aggressive approach to judging.
March 9, 2006
"The Wisconsin Supreme Court is quite vigorously asserting itself against the other branches of state government."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has excerpts from a speech by 7th Circuit Judge Diane Sykes, complaining about the Wisconsin Supreme Court (where she was once a justice):