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Kloppenburg claims victory in Wisconsin court race, recount expected

UPDATE (6:55 p.m.): From WisPolitics.com: "The Waukesha County canvass netted Justice David Prosser more than 7,500 votes over JoAnne Kloppenburg, swinging the vote total dramatically in his direction."

Yes, there's next to no way to overcome a 7,000 vote margin in a recount.


UPDATE (4:47 p.m.): WisPolitics.com has an election blog, from which we learn that Justice David Prosser's legal team for the recount will be headed by Jim Troupis and include Milwaukee-based Attorney Dan Kelly and Ben Ginsberg of Washington, D.C., who was prominent on the 2000 Bush-Gore recount in Florida.

UPDATE (4:23 p.m.): With additional precincts reporting, now Prosser's up by several hundred votes.

Joanne Kloppenburg, the union-backed candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, declared victory over incumbent Justice David Prosser Wednesday on the basis of 206 votes out of 1.5 million case. A recount is likely.

Two takes on Kloppenburg's advance are common, typified by:

  • Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit: "WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT: A Referendum That Wasn’t. Nope. The unions went all-in and managed a dead heat in a judicial election. The mountain has labored and brought forth a mouse."

Versus ...

  • Greg Sargent at Washington Post's Plumline blog: "[Even] without a win, labor and Dems will have exceeded expectations big time, and will have proved that the grassroots energy unleashed by Walker’s overreach is still in full force. And of course, if Kloppenburg does pull this off, it will constitute a huge win that will only lend more momentum to the recall drives and confirm that Walker remains as politically toxic as ever."

It pains us to agree with Sargent, but a victory is a victory is a victory. John Fund at The Wall Street Journal raises the possibility of voter fraud, which would be no surprise given the flood of outside activists coming to the state and Wisconsin's same-day voter registration law.

But that's politics. How about the broader issue of judicial elections? At his blog, Dan Riehl comments:

Whatever yesterday's vote around a state supreme court judgeship in Wisconsin says about any absolute, Constitutionally-derived notion of justice in the courts when it comes to political decisions, it may not be very good. The concept of judge shopping may have hit an all time high. If this election is ultimately instrumental in forming Wisconsin's legislative approach in dealing with public sector employee unions, it will also have been decided by a much smaller percentage of voters than were the elections of Walker and the current legislature.

And what about the new law on collective bargaining, which the unions fully expect a Supreme Court Kloppenburg will vote to overturn? Mickey Kaus:

On Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell said Kloppenburg’s vote “will be the decisive vote on whether Wisconsin’s anti union bill is legal.” Maybe. Maybe not! One of the judges often counted on a post-Kloppenburg 4-3 liberal majority is hardly a sure thing vote for either side. In fact, Justice N. Patrick Crooks sided with the conservatives more often than the liberals, although not necessarily in high-profile 4-3 cases. (Crooks is described by kf’s key sources in the field as a bit of a Souter type–not as liberal as Souter, maybe, but independent and unpredictable after having originally been supported by conservatives.) …There is also the minor issue of whether opponents of the anti-union law have a case. Or does everyone agree that doesn’t matter anymore? … [Thanks to alert Wisconsin reader P.]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.