Attorneys and judges are expected to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety." In the legal community, this expectation carries tremendous weight approaching that of law.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court had a sterling reputation with no ethics allegations filed against any of its justices from 1848-2007. The reputation-tarnishing punishment for judicial wrongdoing would have been censure, suspension without pay, or removal from office.
Since 2007, three sitting justices have violated the judicial ethics code. Annette Ziegler was reprimanded in 2008 for ruling on a case indirectly involving her husband. Michael Gableman allegedly violated ethics rules in a campaign television ad in 2010, but was acquitted in a 3-3 vote. David Prosser violated the judicial ethics code by placing his hands on Justice Ann Bradley's neck in June 2011. If his case reaches the Wisconsin Supreme Court, his fellow justices could determine his punishment.
There is a well-known 4-3 conservative-liberal, partisan split on the court. David Prosser has asked some justices to recuse themselves from his case. Recently re-elected Patience Roggensack has already done so. Without a quorum, David Prosser's case goes away.
Would you want a case of yours to be decided by the present Wisconsin Supreme Court?