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Madison Seminar students take studies to state Capitol

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Stan Milam/Special to The Gazette
March 24, 2014

MADISON--As justice is blind, so should be the case with academic research, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson told a group of Janesville high school scholars Monday.

“As a judge, I must look at the facts presented without regard to what my personal feelings are, what legislators and lobbyists say and what's in the media,” she told the 23 Craig and Parker high schools advanced placement government students.

“As you study your issues, don't start from a personal point of view. Bring in all opinions so that you consider all the facts and develop a fair and unbiased report,” she said.

Abrahamson gave the students an example of a case in which she had to set aside her personal opinion.

“A farmer was being forced to sell his land that has been in his family since the 1830s to make room for a nuclear power plant,” she said. “I thought it was unfair, but that was the law, and I had to rule in favor of the power plant.”

Years later Abrahamson learned that the utility bought the land but never built the plant and sold back the farm for more than they had paid.

“I don't know the results of all the cases I have decided, but I was pleased to learn of the outcome of that one,” she said.

The Madison Seminar students, led by Scott Gudgel from Craig and Joe Van Rooy from Parker, are researching an array of state government issues including college financial aid, renewable energy, state transportation funding, job growth, health care coverage and redistricting.

In addition to their individual interviews, the students received briefings on state government issues by Sen. Tim Cullen, Rep. Amy Loudenbeck and Scott Manley, vice president of government relations at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. WMC makes available its main conference room for the day to provide a home base for the students during the day.

The students will prepare a paper and an opinion piece based on their research.



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