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Wisconsin Supreme Court justices Thursday will discuss when they and other state judges should recuse themselves from cases.(Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

MADISON - Conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court shot down a proposal Thursday to overhaul rules that determine when judges and justices must step aside from cases involving those who spent money in their elections.

The justices voted 5-2 to toss aside a rule change proposed in January by 54 retired jurists that would have forced judges off of cases involving those who helped get them on the bench. Conservatives who control the court said the proposal would interfere with the free speech rights of those who run ads and engage in other campaign-like activity.

"The petitioners here have asked us to do something that does not comport with the constitution as I view it," said Justice Annette Ziegler.

Justice Shirley Abrahamson disagreed, saying tighter rules were needed to boost the public's confidence that judges were acting impartially.