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The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 14, Number 7 (April 1913)

Pease, Lynn S.
Legislative bill no. 276A,   pp. [337]-341

Page [337]

LYNN S. PEASE, '86, Chairman Alumni Committee on Legislation
   Alumni Legislative
immittee  believe that
e alumni and other citi-
ns of the state should
quaint themselves with
e provisions of Bill No.
          276 A, introduced by As-
semblyman Judson W. Hall of Wau-
kesha county, and carefully consider
the changes proposed therein.
  This bill provides that the univer-
sity regents shall be nominated-
one from each congressional district
and two (women) from the state at
large-and elected by the state at
large "in the same manner and at
the same time as justices of the su-
preme court."
  The other feature -of the bill is the
elimination of the president of the
university from membership on the
board of regents.
  The sole question   is of  course
whether   or  not  these  proposed
changes promise any greater cer-
tru~intv in qpp.wri-nop fhp. mn~tm .fltnipt
board of regents.
  The first question is to some extent
a debatable one because no method
of selecting a public officer has been
devised whereby we may certainly
select the most competent public of-
ficer. Notwithstanding the efforts
which have been made to safeguard
the selection of public officers either
by popular election or by executive
appointment, no method has been
devised which can be generally ap-
plied with any reasonable assurance
that results will be at least fairly
satisfactory. The two problems, first,
of determining the qualifications of
an efficient public officer, and second,
of securing the selection of the most
competent man, have been success-
fully solved in very few cases. It is
evident that the desirability of any
method of nominating and selecting
public officers must be carefully ex-
amined with reference to the partic-
ular office in question.
  The proposal that "all the regents
      shall be nominated and elected
in the same manner and at the same
time as now provided for the elec-
tion of the justices of the supreme
court." is very alluring because it is
a known   fact that Wisconsin has
been very successful in securing a
competent supreme court. In fact,
the selection of a supreme court jus-
tice appears to be the best safe-
guarded selection for public office
that we have in Wisconsin.
  But "the time and manner", of
nominating  and   electing supreme
court justices is only one factor in
that success and is by no means the
most important factor. It -eliminates
in a'p. dparlpp fn- nrbl'AhhlT P-n.
tirely, the possibility of partisan pol-
itics in that election. It gives the
voters a much better, opportunity to
center  their  attention upon   the
qualifications of the candidates. But
a more fundamental factor lies in the
established public opinion which has
fixed a certain well-defined standard
of qualifications for that office and
demands the proof of such qualifica-
tions by the test of actual success-
ful work on the bench or at the bar.
There is the further fact that qualifi-
tions are examined and must be gen-
erally approved by the members of,
the bar of the state, who are repre-
sentative members of the several
communities and whose clients in a

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