February 28, 2011

What a difference 300,000 protesters makes

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, February 12, 2011:
Restoring Wisconsin to fiscal health is not for the squeamish. The medicine is going to be bitter. Gov. Scott Walker's proposals to strip state employee unions of much of their bargaining power illustrates just how bitter.

But Walker is right to do this. He must insist that state workers pay a bigger share of their benefits. And he's right to take steps to compel them to do so.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, February 28, 2001:
Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill is flawed. We support the governor's aim to rein in labor costs but cannot support this bill as written. . . .

But no matter how deep the budget hole, Walker and his Republican allies in the Legislature were wrong to try to bust public-employee unions. Workers have a fundamental right to organize, even when it's inconvenient for the rest of us.
In the latter editorial, the authors criticize as "reckless" the 14 Democratic State Senators for retreating to Illinois to avoid forming the quorum required to pass the so-called budget repair bill. But had it not been for the action of those 14, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wouldn't even be in the position of reconsidering its former wholesale endorsement for Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting proposals.*

So shouldn't it be thanking the 14, or even praising them?

Meanwhile at the National Review Online, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute "senior fellow" Christian Schneider asks himself, "Have the Madison protests made a difference?" and answers himself, "No."

At least the Journal-Sentinel is paying attention, and not creepily leering over "impressionable college girls" under the Capitol dome.

Maybe he's why they were bolting the windows shut there today.

* It also endorsed him for governor in the first place. The local daily hasn't yet gone so far as to enunciate the topsy turvy buyers' remorse reflected in the latest Public Policy Polling survey (.pdf; 5 pgs.).

That could be next.

Fake Koch is a Wisconsin felon: law prof

Via Legal Insurrection. The money parenthetical:
(I do think the section of the law as to harming reputation has unanswered First Amendment issues which were not addressed by the [State v. Baron] case.)
Translation: The statute is unconstitutional as applied to fake Koch.*

It takes a special brand of wingnuttery to suggest a guy who said "Scott! David Koch" in Buffalo, NY, committed a Wisconsin felony.

Maybe Prof. Jacobson doesn't know political lying is protected here.

* As for the other case Jacobson mentions, State v. Lis, he ignores its discussion of a "benefit" to a thief requiring a corresponding loss to the victim. In this case the "victim," billionaire public figure David Koch, suffered no loss other than — arguably — some diminution of his reputation which, as Prof. Jacobson already conceded, invokes the First Amendment defense that protects the fake David Koch.

Well played.

February 26, 2011

In Wisconsin, collateral ire for Justice Prosser

Another 100K demonstrators gathered at the Capitol in Madison this afternoon (while Fox "News" re-aired a Fox "documentary" about the Tea Party — seriously). The first opportunity Wisconsinites have to express their displeasure at the polls will be on April 5, when conservative Supreme Court Justice David Prosser faces re-election. At left is part of the photo illustrating the local daily's lead story.

Earlier this month, the Koch Industries-funded Club For Growth ran TV ads in support of Justice Prosser, whose campaign had pledged in a press release to "protect the conservative judicial majority" and to act as a "common sense complement" to both the recently installed Republican administration and the Republican-controlled legislature.

Justice Prosser later told WPT's Frederica Freyberg he "never saw" his own press release, and that he "wouldn't have written it that way."

Prosser faces Assistant AG JoAnne Kloppenburg on April 5.

See also BCB: Down in the Northwoods Bunker with Justice Prosser

February 25, 2011

New Chris Abele ad most effective yet

And he did, under questionable circumstances.

Chris Abele faces Jeff Stone for Milwaukee County Executive on April 5th. Governor Scott Walker (the former Milwaukee County Executive) is by several accounts contending with a recent surge in unpopularity.

February 24, 2011

Wisconsin, where any animal means any animal

Strict construction FTW:*
I'm going to go out on a limb here and, without even having seen a motion or heard an argument, predict that the cruelty charge(s) will be reinstated. This has been a Cognitive Dissidence exclusive (the latest of many). — June 13, 2009
[W]e reverse the orders of the circuit courts dismissing the charges against the Kuenzis. We remand with directions to reinstate the charges in both cases. — February 24, 2011
You're welcome.

* ¶16 To sum up, § 951.02 prohibits "cruel" treatment of "any animal." The term "any animal" is broadly defined so that, on its face, the term encompasses the wild deer at issue in this case.

Scott Walker "considered creating safety risks"

That's how Madison's chief of police sees it. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie blows the chief off, despite Governor Walker's concerns over insinuating wing-nut agents provocateur into peaceful protests being not ones of public safety, but of covering his own political backside.

Also, here are Scott Walker's touching professions of ignorance to Appleton, WI's Greta Van Susteren, late of the Fox News Network.

eta: Madison mayor "furious"

Flashback: Fake Sarkozy calls Palin.

Wisconsin: Must be a slow crime day

MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin State patrol officers are being dispatched to the homes of several missing Democratic State senators in the hopes that it will spur some of the lawmakers to come back in session to break an impasse on a budget bill.
The senators are not home. What purpose does intimidating their families serve? And Republicans keep telling us about union "thugs."

The Wisconsin State Journal's Mary Spicuzza reports that the Democratic senators' homes are to be placed under surveillance.

"We're trying about four or five different angles." — Governor Scott Walker, nattering for 20 minutes to a crank caller on Tuesday.

"[I]t's not clear to me that they can't be arrested."
— Right-wing darling professor of law Rick Esenberg

February 23, 2011

Scott Walker: Fireside chat No. 2

Update: Walker totally fell for it. For nearly 20 minutes.

"They're probably puttin' hobos in suits. That's what we do."

This fireside chat purportedly is with a "David Koch."
"Koch" — [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott. Once you crush these bastards I'll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.

Walker — All right, that would be outstanding.
Governor Walker also tells "David Koch" he's got Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen looking into potential felony charges against the 14 Democratic State senators reportedly now ensconced in Illinois.

Walker theorizes that if the 14 Democratic senators are accepting money from unions for food and lodging, the purpose of such payments may be "to keep [the senators] from doing their job." He says that situation is "at minimum an ethics code violation ... We're trying about four or five different angles," adds Governor Walker.

No doubt they'll come up with something (something far removed from Walker's apparent willingness to hop a Koch junket to Cali).

eta: The server is swamped. Dan Cody has the recordings.

Liberals in denial: Andrew Cohen

In The Atlantic, "one of the nation's leading legal analysts" manages to complete his leading analysis without once mentioning the newly discovered power of Congress to regulate your commerce-thoughts.

I would have imagined* that significant.

Instead, analyst Andrew Cohen dwells — apparently approvingly — on Judge Gladys Kessler's inappropriate policy views: Kessler suggests, says Cohen, that "those who do not purchase health insurance are making irresponsible choices that eventually harm others."

It would be one thing if Judge Kessler's admonitory musings were obiter dicta; that is, extrajudicial asides offered separate and apart from the substance of the ruling itself. The problem is they are integral to her reasoning: how else could she arrive at the conclusion that the federal legislative power includes for the regulation of personal decisions taking place wholly in the province of the mind.

Judge Kessler is speaking, Andrew Cohen believes, to all who "refuse to buy health insurance in the name of federalism and the 10th Amendment." I don't know if that's why they "refuse" to buy health insurance, but at least they found something in the Constitution which mitigates against the view that "commerce among the several States" means "among the several states of human consciousness."

That's the same Andrew Cohen, incidentally, who sought to preempt the expected effect of Judge Clyde Roger Vinson's January 31 order invalidating the PPACA in its entirety by dismissing it brusquely as "a stray decision by a conservative trial judge." But today he's enamored with this wildly injudicious exercise of authority by a liberal one.

If this decision is allowed to stand, I'll eat my tricorne cheese-hat.

* This imagining subject to federal regulation.

More: Liberals in denial.

February 22, 2011

Albeit no substantial burden on the Christian faith

"Economic Decision-Making Is an Activity Subject to Congress's Commerce Clause Power," announces the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Gladys Kessler presiding.

With respect, I've a really hard time not finding that preposterous.

The judge even admits she is dealing with "mental activity," and proceeds to brook no distinction between it and "physical activity" for the purposes of assessing federal regulatory power. I mean, wow.

Just ... wow.

Mead v. Holder (.pdf; 64 pgs)

WPRI "nonpartisan research" revealed

Apparently it involves Googling "impressionable college girls."*

Creepy. What's he doing at the State Capitol, stalking?

* You may take that about as seriously as their actual research.

On teh web: WPRI.

Wisconsin GOP shenanigans "certainly" illegal

Last Friday, Wisconsin Republicans scheduled a vote in the State Assembly for five p.m., then started taking the votes several minutes before, prior to the Democrats arriving in the chamber.
Bob Dreps, a lawyer who handles open government cases, said voting before the scheduled start time for a legislative session "certainly violates" State law.
The vote was then rescinded, and as Dreps says, rescinding it moots any court challenge, but that doesn't make the voting any less illegal.

Meanwhile those same Republicans and their leader, Scott Walker, are busy excoriating Senate Democrats for avoiding a vote in that other chamber. Yet are those Democrats doing anything illegal?

No. Only the Republicans broke the law.

February 21, 2011

The only thing we have to fear is Walker's BS

MADISON (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker says he plans a live "fireside chat" with Wisconsin residents on Tuesday night.
There is a bogus Heritage Foundation/Americans For Prosperity/Koch Industries talking point making the rounds at the moment, and Scott Walker simply means to insult your intelligence by repeating it.

FDR was not opposed to the state entering into collective bargaining agreements with its employees. He — like every other rational political actor — warned against "militant tactics" endangering essential state services. By militant tactics he meant strikes and no matter how many times Scott Walker's enablers* lie about it, nobody went on strike last week, and nobody went on strike today.

* Whose ranks are dwindling, according to some very recent polls.

eta: Golly, who could have seen that coming.

February 19, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama of the North

WMC/Gableman/"tort reform" sure did a lot of good, aina?

Tea Party quote of the day, Madison edition

That's not responsive.
Brad Thor, author of the thriller "The Last Patriot," asked the crowd, "Is your life better or worse because of the unions?"

The crowd roared, "No."
I guess the teachers are on strike.

Via All Politics Blog

February 18, 2011

Marla Stephens endorses JoAnne Kloppenburg

The past few days have shown us how important constitutional checks and balances can be in our state government. During my campaign for Supreme Court, I expressed my concern over the potential for over-reaching that occurs when a single party controls both the legislative and the executive branches. We must have a truly nonpartisan and independent Supreme Court to check and balance the other two branches. Unfortunately, I do not believe that Justice Prosser can be an independent jurist, based on prior statements and decisions. I am therefore endorsing JoAnne Kloppenburg in the upcoming General Election to replace Justice Prosser and to restore faith in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the court.
— Statement from Marla Stephens on Supreme Court race, 02/18/11

Mostly amateur union thugs in Madison

Until 10 p.m., when the professional union thugs were expected.

And look who's coming tomorrow. Talk about your thugs.

How are Paul Ryan's "riots" going

Madison Police estimate 35,000 outside, Capitol Police estimate 5,000 inside. No incidents/arrests reported.
Via Wheeler Report.

Earlier: Will you stop comparing Walker to Mubarak

Paul Ryan is a GOP "young gun" from Wisconsin.

Wisconsin workers stripped of rights? Not at all!

Under Governor Scott Walker's bill, says TIME's Joe Klein, public employees will retain the right not to be "too severely underpaid." Well then! Everybody back from Illinois and clear out the rotunda.

Wisconsin: Police State, literally

Milwaukee Biz Times is reporting:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued an order this morning for the State Patrol to round up any Democratic State Senators they can find and bring them back to the Capitol in Madison.

If State Patrol officers find Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona), he will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said.
"Bringing them back" is one thing, if it involves convincing the legislators to return to the Capitol: offering them a ride, in effect. But arresting them and taking them into custody? I don't think so.

Meanwhile the Capital Times says:
Fitzgerald added Miller would not be arrested, though.
If the Biz Times is accurate, he must have reconsidered. Wisely.

You think it's "absurd" to avoid a vote by "fleeing," wait until the governor starts arresting — literally — his political opponents.

Then Walker's fans will have less to complain about the Hitler sign.

eta: Equivocates Rick Esenberg, who is a professor of the law at Marquette University: "[I]t's not clear to me that they can't be arrested, although that would be an extraordinary thing to do."

Good heavens. Well of course the legislators could be arrested — in the same sense that they could be assaulted, for example — but it would quite clearly be an unlawful arrest, the custody even more so.

I hope the Sergeant at Arms is not asking Prof. Esenberg for advice.

Wisconsin Justice William A. Bablitch

Passed away Wednesday.

On October 28, 2009, Justice Bablitch (by then retired from that position) delivered a passionate and moving defense of the independence of the judiciary at an open hearing of the Wisconsin Supreme Court that is very much worth watching and considering.

Justice Bablitch's testimony begins at 1:55:00.

McIlheran lies about Wisconsin teachers too

The Journal Communications, Inc. fellow travelers:
And, as [Charlie] Sykes points out, it is illegal. He's got links to the relevant laws and penalties.
No, Charlie Sykes doesn't, and they are lying.

Bear in mind these three shameless clowns — McIlheran, Sykes, and the WPRI's Schneider — are likely to participate in the smearing of the candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, JoAnne Kloppenburg.

They have no credibility and prove it often. Yet the biggest media consortium in the State provides them an unaccountable platform.

See also: Patrick McIlheran hails Walker's "earlier triumph"

February 17, 2011

Scott Walker receives 8,000 emails

"Most of which" supported him, said the Wisconsin governor. Math is not my strong suit, but I believe that's less than 30,000 protesters.

Walker also said that repealing statutory provisions guaranteeing public employees collective bargaining rights was "a modest request."

And Governor Walker, who enjoys an unseemly symbiotic relationship with local medium wave squawker and professional dissembler Charlie Sykes, mocked a reporter's question for its "editorializing."*

Walker is almost as funny as Ron Johnson.

* WI Gov. Scott Walker booked for Fox News Sunday — LA Times

Yes, because there sure won't be any editorializing there.

See also: Walker key premise is false

Will you stop comparing Walker to Mubarak

And please leave the wild rhetoric to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Paul Ryan calls the peaceful demonstrations in Madison "riots."

For Charlie Sykes, mendacity is the law

Tweets the local wing-nut howler and reputed "blogfather":
UPDATED: "Sickouts" are illegal... here's the law.
"The law," according to Sykes's trusted source,* WPRI "senior fellow" Christian Schneider, is an informational paper prepared by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau. First of all, informational papers are not "the law," although they may make reference to "the law."

This one does: The Municipal Employment Relations Act. Second of all, Sykes and Schneider are claiming that the "sick-outs" staged by some Wisconsin teachers in protest of Governor Scott Walker's move to repeal the collective bargaining rights of public employees are "strikes." What they base that on is not explained by either of them.

Third of all, even assuming arguendo that the sick-outs are in fact strikes, these ones are not prohibited by the real law, Wis. Stat. § 111.70(1)(nm) (a provision of the Municipal Employment Relations Act), which defines "strikes" for all of the administrative directives (law) and informational papers (not law) which proceed from it:
"Strike" includes any strike or other concerted stoppage of work by municipal employees, and any concerted slowdown or other concerted interruption of operations or services by municipal employees, or any concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as municipal employees, for the purpose of enforcing demands upon a municipal employer. Such conduct by municipal employees which is not authorized or condoned by a labor organization constitutes a "strike" . . .
Emphases added. That is the actual "law" to which Sykes and Schneider's citations ultimately lead, whether they know it or not.

So. These sick-outs are not "for the purpose" described above — Walker and the Republicans in the Wisconsin State legislature are clearly not municipal employers** — and furthermore: "The leader of Wisconsin's largest teachers union is asking all 98,000 members to head to Madison Thursday and Friday." That would be the "authorized or condoned," as obviously the teachers' union leader is aware that both Thursday and Friday are work days. See how easy that was?

Easier than lying, which requires mendacity. And a wing-nut.

If Schneider and Sykes want to accuse teachers of breaking the law, they'd better have better grounds for it than their own foolishness.

* That was his first mistake.

** See Wis. Stat. § 111.70(1)(j), defining municipal employers.

Oppo research fail

The Republican candidate for Milwaukee County Executive, Jeff Stone, doesn't even know his opponent's name: It's Chris Abele.

Pronounced Ably.

Chris Abele and the rest of the conservative's opponents cumulatively drew 57% of the vote, so Jeff Stone had better learn Abele's name.

February 16, 2011

The enduring genius of Patrick McIlheran

'He's a right-wing guy who links to good reading on teh Web'

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's award-winning calumnist Patrick McIlheran haplessly attempts to erect some kind of argument on a piece of nonsense authored by James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal, whose own premise has to do with Justice Antonin Scalia allegedly violating the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

But sadly for both Taranto and McIlheran, the referenced Code does not apply to Supreme Court Justices.* McIlheran's rendering of Judge Ralph Adam Fine's opinion in Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Gableman is likewise inept, but we'll have to save that for another time. Because for all the local conservative intelligentsia's** hooting about the three Wisconsin Supreme Court challengers' raising the Gableman case, they sure do love to talk about it themselves. So don't worry, we haven't heard the end of it. From the conservatives.

* Mr. Taranto actually links to the Code, but apparently scurried past the introduction to all the 'shoulds' and 'should-nots,' which in any event aren't especially punishing on anybody, something McIlheran might have noticed himself if he'd paid any attention to Judge Fine.

** Generally the triumvirate of McIlheran, Sykes, and Esenberg.

Wisconsin Supreme Court primary results

With 99% of precincts reporting:

David Prosser — 225,256 (55%)
JoAnne Kloppenburg — 102,040 (25%)
Marla Stephens — 43,997 (11%)
Joel Winnig — 37,149 (9%)

Total — 408,442

I believe that's around 13% of registered voters participating.*

Fifty-five percent doesn't strike me as terribly convincing at this point. Especially if Governor Scott Walker keeps pissing off more of the other 87% with his aggressively "pro-business" agenda, which the Prosser campaign pledged to "complement," a stance even Prosser's own cohort of political supporters enthusiastically acknowledges.

There's more than enough unexercised franchise out there to close that gap and surely Justice Prosser is not going to benefit from any Stephens or Winnig supporters at the general election on April 5.

Recall that in 2009, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, whose "liberal" credentials are sterling, swept 69 of Wisconsin's 72 counties over Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick, a jurisprude who presented himself to voters as to the right of Clarence Thomas.**

* See comment: It's 9.3 percent of the voting age population.

Mr. Magney is the GAB's public information officer.

** But still slightly to the left of Attila the Hun, as the saying goes; Koschnick enjoyed a prior incarnation as a State public defender.

Charlie Sykes, he's Milwaukee's creddible source

Tweets the medium wave wing-nut and self-styled education expert:

In fact Charlie Sykes's "professor" is a UWM student teaching assistant who moved a Monday session from the classroom to a rally — on campus beside the library* — protesting against the governor's plan to repeal the collective bargaining rights of State employees.
In relation to our course's examination of questions of class, economics, and the university, and our reading about alternative research strategies and writing forms, we will use the rally as a learning experience for our course.
Scandalous. And the pressure: unbearable.

The TA also tendered a full disclosure to the class as to why and how his own personal situation would be affected by the governor's action.

Rumor has it there are people who take Charlie Sykes seriously. At Sykes's Journal Communications, Inc. website, Sykes disciples mocked the TA for mixing up "effect" and "affect," but nary a mention of the so-called blogfather's frequent spelling challenges.

* Spaights Plaza is at most a three-minute walk from anywhere.

February 15, 2011

Not an endorsement so much as a sad reality

On Wisconsin primary election day

Rick Esenberg doesn't care for the fact that the three challengers to incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser — their fate will be decided today — have raised the specter of Prosser's colleague Michael Gableman, whose own electoral shenanigans have contributed mightily to the much-publicized rifts among the court.

While Prof. Esenberg enjoys relitigating the Gableman affair* as much as anyone, he just doesn't remember it very well. Esenberg seems to think that Justice Prosser and his two conservative allies in the matter, Justice Roggensack and Justice Ziegler, found that Gableman's notorious 2008 teevee ad was "misleading." They didn't.

Far from deeming the 30-second spot misleading, what they actually found is that "each statement in the advertisement is true" (¶24).

The worst the three justices would say about it was that it was "distasteful," and even then that wasn't a conclusion they could arrive at sua sponte. They had to "acknowledge" that it was distasteful. From whence the said acknowledgment was derived, we aren't told.

What is true is that all three of Prosser's challengers have invoked Gableman. One of them, Joel Winnig, has invoked him in a manner unlikely to heal whatever discord exists on the court: he's called Gableman "a cancer" who "continues to pollute" the Supreme Court.

That's not helpful, especially as collegiality on the court has been and will continue to be — up until the general election in April — an issue.

The other two, JoAnne Kloppenburg and Marla Stephens, have been more circumspect and the point of my observation to which Prof. Esenberg took up cudgels is that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel did a disservice to the latter candidates when it lumped them together with Winnig. And, in its illogical endorsement of Prosser, the paper continued to ignore the distinction. More on that later, perhaps.

As for today's primary, from which surely Prosser and one of the three challengers will emerge, Kloppenburg and Stephens are the two most viable candidates. They are equally experienced, capable, and temperate. Both would make fine State Supreme Court justices.

As a question of pure politics, however, Stephens's experience has been with the State public defender's office, whereas Kloppenburg is an assistant attorney general, a member of the executive branch tasked with enforcing the law as set forth by the legislature.

Gableman's advertisement demonstrated the depths to which the right-wing smear machine will stoop to defame any lawyer who has spent time ensuring the constitutional rights of criminal defendants are zealously protected. Indeed, it's getting cranked down already, with the appearance of a phony "unbiased" front group directed by a former foot soldier to the mildly deranged evangelist Pat Robertson.

Prof. Esenberg's pal the wing-nut howler Charlie Sykes, who has a 50-thousand-watt platform to help disseminate those smears, is in on the scam as well. It's a depressing reality, but Marla Stephens would face less easily surmountable obstacles than JoAnne Kloppenburg.

* And why not. It's a fascinating case from a variety of perspectives.

Plus it remains pending to this very day.

February 14, 2011

WPRI's Jack of Napes

WPRI "senior fellow" Mike Nichols advances a ludicrous false dichotomy* between science and tarot cards and concludes: "tarot cards." If anybody can make sense of this mess, let me know.

* See also the trilemma: Lord, liar, or WPRI senior fellow?

Loophole Club For Grothman

The CFG went on to molest another election.
Wisconsin Club For Growth is running ads on behalf of David Prosser, but, says GAB spokesman Reid Magney, those ads have not triggered additional funds. "That's because they don't say, 'Vote for Justice Prosser,' they don't say, 'Elect him,' they don't use any of the magic words that make it a campaign ad,"* Magney says. So the law is fraught with loopholes.
They don't even bother to attempt concealing their hypocrisy.

* Of course it's a campaign ad, but the law says no. Ridiculous, yes?

h/t Mr. Bumble.

Protests planned in Arab dictatorships, Wisconsin

Dane101's guide to action against Wisconsin's union-buster-in-chief

And Mike Plaisted notes that local squawker James "Hip Musings" Harris may have inadvertently broken some news, but with a caveat:
It is entirely possible that Walker told Harris that because he knew he was stupid enough to believe it and it would end what must have been a tedious ["national"] conversation with him.
Those labor unions that supported Scott Walker's career political ambitions are exempt from the governor's stomping all over their collective bargaining rights, which even the otherwise dependable Republican lapdog Patrick McIlheran admitted yesterday on Charlie Sykes's Milwaukee teevee programme was a quid pro quo kickback.
"I'm very disappointed," said [Milwaukee] Ald. Michael Murphy, a critic of the newly elected governor. "It seems to be almost like a pay-to-play."
Huh. So McIlheran is not just a voice crying in the wilderness.

And lest we forget:
Our campaign efforts will include building an organization that will return Justice Prosser to the bench, protecting the conservative judicial majority and acting as a common sense compliment [sic] to both the new [Republican] administration and [Republican] legislature. — Prosser for Supreme Court
That's encouraging too (bedrock constitutional principles aside).

Voters have a chance to stop those efforts in their tracks tomorrow.

Candidate websites:
JoAnne Kloppenburg
Marla Stephens
Joel Winnig

February 13, 2011

Scott Walker suspends democracy in Wisconsin

According to the Wisconsin State Employees Union:
We know Walker is trying to bait us by mobilizing the National Guard, hiring an Ohio security firm to staff any facility and instructing the capitol police to meet with legislators and "advise" them not to meet with constituents in their districts.
Amazing, and repugnant, as Chief Justice John Marshall would say.

February 12, 2011

Club For Grothman

The Club For Growth is running teevee ads* for Justice Prosser:

"Bagman for the ultra rich." — John McCain, WaPo, 01/17/03
"The Club for Greed." — Mike Huckabee, Fox News, 08/18/07
"Stupid" and "counterproductive." — Karl Rove, NYT, 08/10/03

Typical bitter liberals with their class warfare.

* "Magic words" may be the dumbest concept in American law.

Local wise men to convene

Feat. Sykes, McIlheran, and "Hip Musings" Harris:

Walker vs. the unions, hashed out

Indeed, cannabinoids being the key to enduring these clowns.

Prosser allies admit court is "pro-business"

As the Brew City Brawler perceptively discovers today.

When one considers that most of the decisions in the report the Brawler is discussing reduce to "Injured Plaintiff v. Business," the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council's advocacy is troubling, as it suggests its endorsement of Justice Prosser is based on an assumption that he has already prejudged future cases in favor of the latter adversaries.

In fact the first person to reject it should be Justice Prosser.

It's also notable that the very first decisions the WCJC cites, 2009's Horst v. Deere and its counterpart Godoy v. E.I. DuPont, contain writings either authored or joined by Justice Prosser openly lobbying for a sea change to long-accepted Wisconsin products liability law.

And they aren't making recommendations to the State legislature, as is occasionally the case with the court's opinions. Rather, the so-called conservative justices want the court itself to effectuate a radical alteration in the law despite — as Justice Crooks smartly notes — neither party to either case urging the adoption of the novel doctrine which — not coincidentally — appears in a treatise prepared by conservative academics,* the Restatement (Third) of Torts.

In different circumstances, this is what political conservatives denounce as "judicial fiat." Not that anybody should expect philosophical consistency from them. They're simply opportunists.

Who knows why they just can't admit that; it's as plain as can be.

* Principally Aaron Twerski, a distinguished Marquette Law alumnus.

February 11, 2011

Theme of Ron Johnson's speech was demagoguery

It says here. So I searched the YouTubes for demagoguery and found this: The very definition of demagoguery. No wonder he's an expert.

I took such offense to [sic] the demagoguery. — "Sunspots" Johnson

Yes, yes you did.

So the Great State of Wisconsin may have lost Senator Russ Feingold, but it sure as Hell gained an unintentional comedian.

At CPAC, Pawlenty reverses self on DADT

"Bring that big budget axe and swing it hard, baby."
— Tim Pawlenty to Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy
Dude. Nobody asked.

Via @timkmak

Bad omen for downtown Milwaukee location

Borders nearing bankruptcy filing

It's a shame, but who pays $30 for a book that's $18 at Amazon.com.

And who buys CDs at all (aside from blank ones).

Paging Doris Hajewski.

Governor Walker is preparing the National Guard

But at the same time Governor Walker says he's not anticipating any problems. What other reason might there be for preparing the National Guard except in anticipation of a problem? Provocation?

BizTimes Milwaukee calls it "threatening" and a "taunt."

That's no stretch, considering Walker's oxymoronic pronouncement.

"Push too hard and this governor could go for the complete union kill shot." — Madison's wing-nut blogger and Walker man David Blaska

Nice touch.

National Marriage Week ends with a bang

Senator Sunspots does some accounting:
In Ron Johnson's expert opinion, traditional marriage has been around "for thousands of years ... and I just don't see any reason to change that."
And Lamech took unto him two wives ... Genesis 4:19

And Newt took unto him three.
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with His arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix.
An American judge wrote that crap in 1959, which is not all that long ago in the context of "thousands of years." Much like U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, that judge didn't see any reason to change it either.

(God's a lifelong bachelor apparently, and Jesus had two daddies.)

February 10, 2011

Orrin Hatch's second-favorite Twitter follower

Is me. Me and Orrin go way back, to the Robert Bork hearings.

Wisconsin Supreme Court: As I was saying

It was highly irresponsible for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to have portrayed Supreme Court candidates Marla Stephens and JoAnne Kloppenburg as parties to the inflammatory denunciations of Justice Michael Gableman articulated by a third candidate, Joel Winnig.

There are impressionable, easily duped minds among us who swallowed the Journal-Sentinel's negligently misleading headline hook, line, and sinker including — not at all surprisingly — top Wisconsin conservative blogger Boots (or is he Sabers?) who refers to all three Supreme Court challengers collectively as "jokers" and "tools" that all collectively put forth "stupid and irresponsible BS."*

Both Kloppenburg and Stephens have raised the Gableman case in a legitimate and substantive manner, and the ongoing controversy is relevant because the incumbent Justice David Prosser joined an opinion (or "writing," as it has come to be known) exonerating Gableman from any wrongdoing based on an arguably misguided take on the relationship between the First Amendment and accepted principles of ethical conduct among members of the judiciary.

Winnig's comments on the other hand are easily distinguishable, whereas Stephens's and Kloppenburg's disagreements with the "writing" are no different than might be their views of any other prior decision of the court. The Journal-Sentinel should in fairness clarify these distinctions, if only for the benefit of the impressionable right.

* I assume that stands for "bullshit" and not "Boots & Sabers."

Charlie Sykes: Justice Prosser is a political phony

"Follow the logic."— Ancient WISGOP saying
Stephens has gone out of her way to define herself as the "open-minded" candidate . . . Her self-proclaimed "open mind" and "unbiased" approach ring hollow when viewed in the larger context of her actions. — Thus sayeth "a new group in town"
Here's our medium wave squawker calling Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Marla Stephens "a political phony" because "a new group in town" has brought some really serious charges of hypocrisy! "Good catch," enthuses the local wing-nut "blogfather." Let's examine the record, before the EPA adds Sykes to its schedule of air pollutants.*

Hypocrisy, Count I:
Stephens released the names of thirteen former and current state legislators who have endorsed her campaign. All are Democrats including Joe Wineke, former Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
It's a pity neither Charlie Sykes nor his "new group in town" checked Justice David Prosser's own website, which lists endorsements from dozens (75 to be exact) of elected officials. Every single one of them is a Republican (including some real dandies, like Glenn Grothman).

Plus two former executive branch officials — one is the ridiculously partisan operative Margaret Farrow — both of whom are Republicans.

Verdict: Prosser FTW.

Hypocrisy, Count II:
Since 1999, Stephens has contributed $2,875 to Wisconsin political campaigns. All of Stephens' contributions have been to Democratic and liberal candidates.
In fact only $1,725 of that, in increments no larger than $100, was to candidates running for partisan offices. Meanwhile Justice Prosser was donating $3,150 to "Republican and conservative candidates."**

Verdict: Prosser FTW.

Hypocrisy, Count III:
She describes herself as "a member of the Democratic party, on and off, throughout [her] life."
She did say that, but she wasn't "describing herself" as such, she was responding to Frederica Freyberg's direct question, "What is your [political affiliation]." That phony hypocrite! — answering truthfully.

Yet only days later, Justice Prosser told the same interviewer:
Well, let me say this. I have the most partisan background of any member of the court.
And indeed Justice Prosser was positively advancing this self-description of his own volition, as his averment was in response to Ms. Freyberg's inquiry, "What is your judicial philosophy."

What he meant was he was not only a member of the Republican Party, he was a Republican legislator in the Wisconsin State Assembly for 18 years, including six as minority leader and two as speaker.

Moreover, exactly as fits Charlie Sykes & Co.'s groundless allegations of "political phoniness" and hypocrisy against Atty. Stephens, Justice Prosser went on to disassociate himself from those former political affiliations for the purposes of fair and impartial judging.

And rightly so, to the equal credit of both candidates.

Therefore those affirmations of impartiality made by both Justice Prosser and Atty. Stephens are identical, the only difference being Prosser having raised the issue without being urged to do so.

"Gone out of his way," to coin a phrase.

Verdict: Prosser FTW.

Media Trackers is a Wisconsin-based organization dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and quality fact-based journalism.
Not quite. Rather, this "new group in town" is dedicated to laughable, painfully amateurish drek. Which is right up Charlie Sykes's alley.

It's abundantly clear who's pushing the dishonesty around here.

* a.k.a. the Fairness Doctrine.

** He also gave $500 to Shirley Abrahamson, which anybody who witnessed his fingerpointing mini-tirade toward the Chief Justice at last week's open administrative hearing might imagine he regrets.

Three more contributions totaling $650 were dispensed throughout 1997 and 1998 to former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. Thompson appointed Prosser to the Supreme Court in late 1998.

The source for these figures is the same one as Sykes's "good catch."

Justice Prosser thinks Joel Winnig is smoking dope

Court candidates denounce Justice Michael Gableman
"I think Joel has been smoking some of the stuff he wants to legalize," Prosser said, referring to Winnig's position on marijuana.
Maybe those headline writers are as well, because neither Marla Stephens nor JoAnne Kloppenburg, although they've both fairly criticized Gableman's 2008 shenanigans that made him the defendant in an ethics case, has come anywhere close to "denouncing" him.

Winnig's statements are inarguably denunciations. But it's manifestly unfair to make Atty. Stephens or Atty. Kloppenburg a party to them.

To be sure, the 's' belongs at the end of denounce, not candidate.
Stephens said the opinion that Prosser supported did not take into account the ad's overall message. "You don't take a statement and parse it  . . . phrase by phrase. You take a statement as a whole," she said.
Exactly so.

There was insufficient attention* given by either court that considered the matter as to what is meant by the word "statement" in the Wisconsin code of judicial conduct, which is one of the reasons why this case still generates commentary. So conservatives who are complaining that the Gableman controversy should be forgotten and moved on from can stop talking about Roe v. Wade (1973) any time.

At least the latter decision resulted in a final judgment, whereas Gableman failed in his bid to obtain one from any Wisconsin court.

* Excepting by Ralph Adam Fine, a member of the three-judge panel that first heard Michael Gableman's unsuccessful motion to dismiss. Judge Fine wrote that setting each of the ad's individual spoken English propositions in isolation was "a crabbed reading, lashed to the mast of sentence-by-sentence literalism, and ignores the way we use language, often deriving significant meaning from implication."

February 9, 2011

Joel Winnig goes all in

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Joel Winnig threatened a press conference during his interview with WPR's Joy Cardin yesterday.

Reporter Patrick Marley was there.

It's the Hump Day of National Marriage Week

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has declared this to be National Newt Gingrich's Third Marriage Week. Blogger Jim Arndt has been celebrating the festivities. Scott Walker and his pals like (spinster) Julaine Appling revere the sacrament of marriage so ardently they helped pass a State constitutional amendment preventing a substantial cohort of Wisconsinites from enjoying its benefits.

Here are some of the couples that Walker, Appling, and their fellow travelers worked tirelessly to deny equal protection of the law:
Alicia Toby and Saundra Heath, who reside in Newark, have lived together for seventeen years and have children and grandchildren. Alicia is an ordained minister in a church ...

Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow reside in Union City and have been together for fourteen years. They both are pastors in the Episcopal Church.

Diane Marini and Marilyn Maneely were committed partners for fourteen years until Marilyn's death in 2005. The couple lived in Haddonfield, where Diane helped raise, as though they were her own, Marilyn’s five children from an earlier marriage.

Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden have been committed partners for seventeen years. ... [T]hey are raising two young children conceived through artificial insemination, Karen having given birth to their daughter and Marcye to their son.

Suyin and Sarah Lael have resided together in Franklin Park for most of the sixteen years of their familial partnership. ... They live with their nine-year-old adopted daughter and two other children who they are in the process of adopting.

Cindy Meneghin and Maureen Kilian first met in high school and have been in a committed relationship for thirty-two years. They have lived together for twenty-three years in Butler where they are raising a fourteen-year-old son and a twelve-year-old daughter. Through artificial insemination, Cindy conceived their son and Maureen their daughter.
Recently, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in an interview with a fundamentalist Christian radio station likened gay couples to dogs.

Every argument that so-called "traditional marriage" proponents have presented to courts throughout the country has been debunked, leaving little else to their positions except homophobia and bigotry.

In America, religious adherents, who can switch or even reverse their sectarian affiliation at the drop of a hat, enjoy more heightened legal protections for their various beliefs than do those whose sexual orientation differs from the majority. That situation shouldn't stand.

Sensenbrenner: Nothing but Democrats

Item: Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Allen Edmonds), the career politician who invites maniacal, swivel-eyed English aristocrats to testify before Congressional science committees, blamed Democrats after 26 House Republicans voted against stripping the Fourth Amendment of its two concluding clauses.

See also: F. James Sensenbrenner, feeding at the gummint trough

February 8, 2011

Never mind Florida or Virginia

The Sixth Circuit [headquartered in Cincinnati, OH] is poised to become the first appellate court in the country to rule on the constitutionality of the health care statute.
Loads of lawyering to chew over here.

The case is Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, wherein a district judge in Michigan found in favor of the PPACA's constitutionality:
There is a rational basis to conclude that, in the aggregate, decisions to forego insurance coverage in preference to attempting to pay for health care out of pocket drive up the cost of insurance. . . . While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government's characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.
This is as broad a view as it gets (scroll to Roman numeral IV).

Indeed that's not just a broad reading of the Constitution, it's a broad reading of the broadest cases broadly reading the Constitution (IMO).

However the courts get to defining "commerce" to include mere "decisions,"* there remains the question of "regulating," and regulating decisions is, in effect, an exercise of thought control.

By the way, Laurence Tribe said this today:
[The Supreme Court should] treat this constitutional challenge for what it is — a political objection in legal garb.
I kind of resent that. It's no political objection to ask how the power to initiate or compel commerce inheres in the power to regulate it.

Prof. Tribe doesn't even address that question. Could it be because his NYT column is more political cover than legal analysis? Hmm . . .

* As written!

Candidate Joel Winnig is on the warpath

Update: Joel Winnig goes all in

"Michael Gableman continues to pollute the Wisconsin Supreme Court." — Joel Winnig, speaking this morning to WPR's Joy Cardin
"Mike Gableman lied and cheated and got his job that way."
That's a provocative way to characterize a prospective colleague and one unlikely to improve the public and private testiness between the State Supreme Court's so-called liberal and conservative factions.

Joel Winnig also suggested that incumbent Justice David Prosser, the fellow he hopes to replace on the court, doesn't know the difference between right and wrong, which coincidentally is an element of what's popularly known as the insanity defense (a criminal defendant's inability to recognize certain moral distinctions is the manifestation of a mental disease or defect, according to Wisconsin law).

Winnig may be smelling blood in the water and stepping up his game after yesterday's reports indicating that one of his primary election rivals, Marla Stephens, hasn't raised enough money to run any Statewide teevee ads.* Stephens opted out of the public financing scheme that dispenses to primary candidates $100K in public money.

The two candidates who survive the February 15 primary each receive another $300K to continue toward the general election on April 5. Winnig also told Ms. Cardin he'd seek an additional $300K to combat an expected third-party onslaught of conservative advertising — including by the notorious Koch Bros. — devoted to protecting Justice Prosser, who presents himself as the conservative candidate.

Justice Prosser is a lock to advance beyond the primary and will face either Mr. Winnig, Ms. Stephens, or JoAnne Kloppenburg in April.

Said Winnig, "I tell my clients I set out not to become wealthy as a lawyer and I succeeded long ago." That's a pretty good line though.

* It's absurd that this factor would be among the qualifications for a seat on the Supreme Court, but apparently that's the way it works.

Ron Johnson: Let us honor Reagan's principals

Presumably not Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North

Gushes Wisconsin's freshly minted U.S. Senator Ron Johnson:
We will serve [Ronald Reagan's] legacy well by remembering this history, and honoring the principals that defined him as one of our nation's finest leaders.
Part of that history, according to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, involved "facing incredibly high interest rates," and "recogniz[ing] that government was not the solution, but a major part of the problem. So he set out to limit the size of government."

It's funny because Ron Johnson appears to have forgotten that his own solution to high interest rates was borrowing millions of dollars at several points below market,* a convenience that just happens to have been facilitated by all three levels of government — federal, State, and municipal — in the form of industrial revenue bonds.

And, when Johnson learned that some businesses in Vermont had availed themselves of precisely the same mechanism, he criticized them in a campaign flyer attacking Russ Feingold who, for all his alleged faults, knew the difference between principals and principles.

Senator Feingold actually both possessed and adhered to the latter, in stark contrast to the current incumbent's situational hypocrisy.

Johnson ran as a "citizen legislator" against "career politicians" (like Scott Walker and F. James Sensenbrenner), yet it's only taken him a few weeks to behave exactly as the hypocrites he claimed to oppose.

Quick study, indeed.

* You know, the "free" one.

February 7, 2011

Wisconsin electors in absence of quorum

On the February 15 Supreme Court primary:
Wisconsin election officials predict only about 10 percent of the State's voters will go to the polls. — Associated Press
I bet more would insinuate themselves into a merit selection scheme.

Liberals in denial: The law professors

Prof. Akhil Reed Amar, who has written two superb books on the Constitution, compares Florida Judge Clyde Roger Vinson to the 19th-century Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, the author of Dred Scott v. Sanford, which affirmed the notion of his fellow human beings as property and arguably precipitated the U.S. Civil War.
Strictly speaking, Obamacare does not mandate the purchase of insurance. It says that those who remain uninsured must pay a tax. Vinson says this mandate cannot be upheld under Congress' sweeping tax powers.
Except Judge Vinson's most recent order is confined to the narrow question of whether Congress is properly exercising its powers under the Interstate Commerce Clause. The administration had previously argued that the mandate was a tax, and in fact Judge Vinson rejected that argument back in October,* as have even those district courts which have otherwise sided with the Obama administration.

Prof. Amar — and, indeed, the administration — might wish to resuscitate it, but doing so doesn't address the Commerce Clause question, as the latter is not where Congress's power to impose taxes resides. So this is some goalpost-shifting by Prof. Amar and therefore not an appropriate ground to attack Judge Vinson's ruling.

And, in the New York Review of Books, Georgetown's David Cole refers to the Necessary and Proper Clause as "[t]hat catch-all provision" which "authorizes Congress to enact laws that, while not expressly authorized by the Constitution’s specific enumerated powers, are 'necessary and proper' to the exercise of those powers."

First of all, if the Necessary and Proper Clause really is a "catch-all provision" — emphasis on "all" — then Judge Vinson is exactly correct, in that viewing it as such would render Congress's legislative powers not just "virtually" unlimited, but actually unlimited in practice.

But obviously there are limits to Congress's authority — see, for further evidence of those limits, the Bill of Rights — and bold assertions of the said "catch-all provision" do not alter that fact.

Secondly, Congress's authority to impose the mandate must first be discovered within Congress's enumerated powers before any other necessary and proper acts may be justified to carry it into execution. The N&P Clause is not a separate grant of legislative power, but rather is present to facilitate bringing those enumerated powers to effect: if there's no enumerated power, then there's no propriety.**

Prof. Cole also "goes there," observing of a prior decision issuing from a federal district court in Virginia that similarly found the insurance mandate to be beyond Congress's authority:
Judge Hudson and the Virginia attorney-general are situated squarely within a tradition—but it’s an ugly tradition. Proponents of slavery and segregation, and opponents of progressive labor and consumer laws, similarly invoked States' rights not because they cared about the rights of States, but as an instrumental legal cover for what they really sought to defend—the rights to own slaves, to subordinate African-Americans, and to exploit workers and consumers.
Jeez, Louise. He sounds a lot like the Madison Capital Times.

Anyway, even the staunchest admirers of Judge Vinson's handiwork shouldn't get too excited about these recent rulings, as the Supreme Court engages the relevant questions presented to it de novo ("anew, afresh") which means the SCOTUS needn't pay any heed to those lower courts' holdings while it conducts its own independent review.

Likewise, Vinson's and Hudson's detractors should keep their powder dry as well, particularly when they're accusing federal judges and State attorneys-general of behaving like slaveowners, as it detracts considerably from whatever legitimate objections they may have.

(Or, as I'm inclined to suspect, substitutes for the lack thereof.)

Special Series: Liberals in denial

* "My earlier ruling [dismissing] the defendants' tax argument is incorporated into this order and, significantly, has the effect of focusing the issue of the individual mandate on whether it is authorized by the Commerce Clause." — Vinson, Jan. 31, footnote 4.

The dismissal of that argument was the most problematic blow to Obamacare thus far, in your correspondent's own humble estimation.

** Even where there's necessity.

February 5, 2011

Somebody wrote this with a straight face

Without Limbaugh's influence, talk radio might well have become a dreary medium of loud voices, relentless anger, and seething resentment. — Commentary magazine
Via Jonathan Chait: "A genuine Rush baby in utero."
Alvy: I'm so tired of spending evenings making fake insights with people who work for Dysentery.

Robin: Commentary.

Alvy: Oh really? I heard that Commentary and Dissent merged and formed Dysentery.

February 4, 2011

Revealed: Conservative vote suppression scheme*

Mighty brazen of them:
You will be asked to vote for two [of four candidates in the February 15 primary election]. PLEASE CAST ONLY ONE VOTE FOR A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, JUSTICE PROSSER.
Got to admit, this is genius:
On the ballot will be Justice David Prosser, a judicial conservative, devoted to the Constitution and rule of law. The other three candidates are liberal.

h/t MKE newsbuzz

* "Esenberg disclaimer" — Parody, not to be taken seriously
nor any Standard Contradictory Disclaimer™ warranty implied ©JFoust

Health care reform dead, exulted Van Hollen

Reports The Economist, among many others. Wisconsin's Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's unseemly triumphalism raised an unholy ruckus the other day after a federal judge in Florida declared Obama's health care act unconstitutional. Consternation was high over Van Hollen's remarks, especially within liberal quarters.

But you know what? J.B. Van Hollen was/is correct, even though the PPACA's demise may be short-lived.* The Constitution is clearer on this point than it is on the question of whether the individual insurance mandate violates the Interstate Commerce Clause:
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.
"And" is the operative word there, and obviously the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida is among those ordained and established by Congress (much to its current regret, perhaps).

In other words, if the Supreme Court can slap on an injunction preventing the enforcement of federal legislation — and it can — then so might a district court. The judicial power inheres in both equally.

While Judge Clyde Roger Vinson did not expressly grant the injunction the plaintiffs — who included J.B. Van Hollen despite his Johnny-come-lately presence in the case caption — sought, he instructed the federal government his order was tantamount to an injunction, relying instead on the federales' good faith in treating it as such.

JBVH's basking in the press glow may have been provocative and, frankly, annoying,** but he's not wrong as a matter of law.

* Odds are good Obama will win a stay over Judge Vinson's ruling pending an appeal to the 11th Circuit. In the meantime the administration's own defiant pronouncements rest on shaky grounds.

** The AGs of Ohio and Texas, for example, were considerably more circumspect and, in this observer's estimation, more professional. I understand the AG's is a partisan office but it needn't be so deliberately blatant — and for many people, insensitive — about it.

February 3, 2011

Liberals in denial: A ray of hope

There's no denying that a Supreme Court ruling against the law is a very real possibility. — The WaPo's Greg Sargent
Series: Liberals in denial

Edited to add:

Prosser held to account for Gableman sins

Further to the observations of JoAnne Kloppenburg, the other two challengers to incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser:

Justice David Prosser had a chance to deal with the ethical failings of one of the court’s own members but refused. Justice Michael Gableman won his last election based on a campaign ad that was condemned by newspaper editorial boards across the state as a misleading attempt at race baiting. They called it "purposeful distortion," and "a lie." This ad was such a distortion that Justice Gableman's lawyer was forced to defend it by saying justices should be able to mislead the public in campaign ads. Justice Prosser bought the argument. He could have held his colleague to a higher standard. He did not. Justice Prosser supported a decision that says campaign season is open season on the truth.

The misconduct of Judge Michael Gableman, which was charged by the Judicial Commission, would have been punished if Justice David Prosser had voted for discipline, along with three other justices who were willing to hold Gableman to account. I would have held him to account. I will not allow lawyers to get away with intellectual dishonesty before the Supreme Court.

It's difficult not to agree with any of 'em.

Kloppenburg not partisan, activist, nor advocate

JoAnne Kloppenburg, the assistant attorney general who's running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, distinguishes herself from her opponents in an interview Monday with Steven Walters:
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.

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.
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.

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.