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Next union battleground in Wisconsin: Supreme Court election



On April 5, Wisconsin voters will elect a justice to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, choosing between 12-year incumbent David Prosser (campaign website) and Joanne F. Kloppenburg, an assistant attorney general (website). Left-wing activists are supporting Kloppenburg's candidacy as the next stage in the fight over collective bargaining for public employees. Talk about politicizing the judicial elections.

Mickey Kaus, now at The Daily Caller, reports:

Second-Half Game Plan: Firedoglake’s David Dayen on the labor-Dem plans to fight back in Wisconsin after losing their battle with Gov Walker. The most intriguing wrinkle is the scheduled state Supreme Court election:

The matchup between David Prosser (R) and JoAnn Kloppenberg (D) for the state Supreme Court on April 5 just got very interesting. It’s a statewide vote, and the balance of power on the state Supreme Court is at stake.  …. If Democrats win, the legality of what took place tonight [i.e. passing Walker's plan-ed.] may be put in greater question.

Will Wisconsin voters feel comfortable turning a judicial election into, in effect, a referendum on a law Democrats don’t like? Will the other 3 Democratic-appointed Supreme Court judges play along with this slightly banana-republicy game? True, conservatives have often campaigned against liberal judges after unpopular rulings (e.g., Rose Bird in California). But it seems even worse, in terms of legal etiquette, to elect a judge in order to make a particular ruling, about a particular law, in a particular upcoming case. …

Ann Althouse, a University of Wisconsin law professor and top-notch blogger, also reports, "Politicizing the Wisconsin Supreme Court election":

There's an election coming up, and JoAnne Kloppenburg is the challenger to the incumbent David Prosser. There are many Kloppenburg signs at the march and, as I've noted before, although it's supposed to be a nonpartisan election, some people try to make it very political. I've seen many people out at the protests stressing the need to make Kloppenburg a Supreme Court Justice so that she can vote against the GOP budget repair bill and do other things that will help the party that lost the elections last fall get something back in the judicial process.

And here's Dean Arms, a Chicago attorney and UW Law grad blogging at the leftist Daily Kos, who cites Kloppenburg's Facebook page and comments, "The Most Important Race in Wisconsin Now?"


What happened today was a travesty and it very well might wind up in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Uppity Wisconsin, a terrific blogger working hard to cover these events, explains the issues here. We know how Prosser would vote. Based on the Facebook page info I'd like to think JoAnne would vote in the opposite direction.

Goo goo groups decried the "politicization" and campaign spending on the Supreme Court race in 2008 between Michael Gableman and Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler Jr., in which business generally supported Gableman and unions and trial lawyers spent heavily on Butler. Gableman won. See AP story, "Critics decry Supreme Court race campaign among nation's worst." In this election, however, the candidates are participating in the state's new system of public financing for judicial campaigns. See Brennan Center press release, Feb. 15, "Special Interest Group Outspends Candidates on TV in Wisconsin Judicial Election.

Thankfully, outside "special interests" still enjoy First Amendment rights.

Prosser and Kloppenburg will participate in a debate next Monday, March 28. For more on the race, search WisPolitics.com here.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.