October 7, 2008

Gableman: This is not news

The bolded portion, at least:
The [Wisconsin] state Judicial Commission levied charges today against state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, alleging he knowingly misrepresented facts in a campaign ad that helped elect him in April.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

We may assume "knowingly" based on Gableman's qualifications to sit on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Link to the ad right here.

eta: Gableman campaign statement at WisPolitics.com.

The Judicial Commission's complaint (.pdf; 5 pgs).

9 comments:

Brett said...

Did you see the campaign's response?

illusory tenant said...

Yes. Apparently they intend to challenge the constitutionality of the judicial ethics guidelines.

grumps said...

If only we could have predicted that Gableman was a lowlife. http://happycircumstance.blogspot.com/2008/03/best-defense-is-to-be-offensive.html

illusory tenant said...

Link.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it was okay for Butler to overturn an appeal that cost a conservative lawyer nearly $100,000simply because he filed a case against a homosexual group.

Gee, Gableman is a real scumbag.

3rd Way said...

Not only a scumbag... but WMC's scumbag.

Clutch said...

Of course, it was okay for Butler to overturn an appeal...

Is that pap what Gableman now wishes he'd said in his ads, instead of the shameless bullshit he actually put out?

Gableman is a real scumbag

I dunno, that's a pretty strong word. Untroubled liar and crass opportunist, maybe. But I guess you could argue for full-on scumbag.

BTW, looks like a lovely irony here: scroll down to see Butler among the heroes standing up against Teh Eevil Judishal Activizm...

William Tyroler said...

Apparently they intend to challenge the constitutionality of the judicial ethics guidelines.

Gableman filed a written response to the initial allegations (Complaint, para. 5), but it doesn't seem to be available on-line. His flack, as iT indicates, says that Gableman will mount a 1st amendment defense:

"The commission chose to ignore the plain language of the ad, which is factual," Schmitz said. "Instead, the complaint alleges that the ad contains false statements on the basis of inference and implication. The First Amendment does not allow a claim to be made on that basis."

So he's seeking safe harbor in a constitutional loophole, something like: "The ineluctable conclusion anyone would have drawn from my ad was absurdly untrue, but because it rested on inference rather than direct assertion I had a 1st amendment right to fob this falsehood off on the public." That should work.

Here's the problematic part of the offensive ad:

Louis Butler worked to put criminals on the street. Like Reuben Lee Mitchell who raped an 11-year-old girl with learning disabilities. Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to molest another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Louis Butler on the Supreme Court?

The Complaint goes on to allege:

11. The Advertisement directly implied and was intended to convey the message that action or conduct of Louis Butler enabled or resulted in Mitchell’s release and Mitchell’s subsequent commission of a criminal molestation. Each of these statements of fact constituting the message is false.
12. Louis Butler did not cause, facilitate, or enable Mitchell’s release from prison and had no responsibility for or connection with Mitchell’s subsequent commission of a crime.


So far, so good. The ad clearly misleads the public in just the way the Complaint describes: the ad's only possible implication is that because Butler "found a loophole," Mitchell got out and raped again. And yet, Mitchell lost his "loophole"-based appeal and was simply released in the natural course of events. The ad lied about how Mitchell obtained release.

Gableman's defense, sketchy as it is, is nonsensical (an asserted right, in effect, to lie by inference). The odd thing, though, is that it doesn't really matter whether Butler obtained Mitchell's release. In Gableman's world, the idea that Butler actually advocated for Mitchell (actively sought a "loophole" for him) was enough. In fact, that's pretty much what Gableman argued during his campaign, and it's pretty much the sensibility that informed the ad. The real basis for the complaint is Gableman's aspersion on the advocacy function -- something he was too blinded by ambition to see and now, most likely, too fearful to acknowledge. And so we will be treated to a miscreant's panicky search for that elusive loophole.

Clutch said...

That's admirably clear and compelling, WT. Thank you.

It raises interesting questions about the apparently porous boundary between semantically interpreting an utterance and drawing inferences from it. Processes like lexical disambiguation (was that 'bug' the insect or 'bug' the listening device?) are generally regarded as semantic, not inferential, while "implicatures" (e.g., saying that someone is a bad hiring choice by choosing to comment only on their penmanship and grooming in a letter of recommendation) is on the inferential side.

Yet some inferential propositions can be so intimately presupposed or unavoidable that it just seems crazy not include them as part of "what was said".