Kloppenburg: What is a campaign issue is what [incumbent Justice David Prosser] has said in his campaign. He said that he is the conservative candidate and will be the conservative justice. His campaign said that he will complement the work of the new governor and the legislature and that of the four candidates he is best able to work with the legislature.Kloppenburg also said of Michael Gableman's notorious 2008 child molester teevee ad, "any reasonable person would call that ad to be a lie," and the perception created by the Supreme Court's 3-3 split in the subsequent ethics case against Gableman was that it was drawn along partisan lines and that it had damaged the court's reputation.
The court is a separate and co-equal branch of government and at times it is a check on the legislature at the same time that it might, it reviews legislation and it may support the legislature or it may not, but you don't know ahead of time. For him to telegraph how he's inclined to rule is a real problem and is a real issue in this campaign.
In addition to Justice Prosser, we have Joel Winnig who talked about how he will work to change laws.
Walters: Yes, he has a very activist view of justice.*
Kloppenburg: An activist is someone who prejudges cases, like Justice Prosser, or who says he's going to change laws, like Joel Winnig. If you want to do that, you run for the legislature, you don't run for the court. And then Marla Stephens has said she'll be an advocate for the court. I've litigated cases around the State; in fact ... as a litigator, I'm the one who advocates. The judge needs to be impartial and independent.
Nevertheless Kloppenburg agreed with three of those justices, in that the case against Gableman should have moved forward rather than letting it hang out there pending without any resolution:**
I have not read the full record, and I think that the justices who would have moved the case forward would have called for a trial in order that more facts could be brought out.In fact it's not at all clear from the State statutes that the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which brought the complaint against Gableman, retained a legal option to present its case to a jury. For that reason the Commission announced it would suspend prosecuting its complaint in the wake of the 3-3 split, but has never joined any motion requesting that the complaint be formally dismissed.
The primary election takes place February 15, which will most likely reduce the slate of candidates to Justice Prosser and one of the three current challengers. JoAnne Kloppenburg leads the fundraising race.
Link to the full interview is here (30 min.).
* I like how reporter Walters jumps in there to fire this shot.
** The court had convened on Gableman's motion for summary judgment (dismissal) which Gableman failed to win. There it sits.