Supreme Court race not without controversy

Renee Hake, Staff Writer

Somewhat overshadowed by all of the presidential election shenanigans, until recently, was the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Justice Rebecca Bradley, and State Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg. Bradley was appointed to the state’s highest court by Gov. Scott Walker on Oct. 9 seeks to keep her seat.

Both are in the race for a 10-year term replacing Justice Patrick Cooks, who passed away in September.

Bradley’s temporary appointment by the governor is her third judicial appointment by him in three years, including the Court of Appeals last May and to the Circuit Court in November of 2012.

Bradley’s website states she is endorsed by Jim Johnson, President of the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriff’s Association; Milwaukee Police Association, Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman; and retired Supreme Court Justice Jon P. Wilson, among others.

Kloppenburg ran for the Supreme Court four years ago against conservative David Prosser, losing to him in a recount. She is endorsed by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald and former Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, Jr.

Recently, the election gained increased national media attention when the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now unearthed some articles Bradley wrote in a school newspaper in 1992 while a student at Marquette University, calling newly elected President Bill Clinton a “tree-hugging, pot-smoking, flag burning, queer-loving, draft dodging, bull-spouting ‘60’s radical socialist adulterer” and that “Americans are either totally stupid or entirely evil.” In another article, Bradley referred to people with AIDS as “degenerates.”

Bradley has since apologized. Members of the Republican Party and Bradley herself have said that they feel she should not be held responsible for something she wrote so many years ago as a young adult. The Governor’s Office said the governor was unaware of the writings.

One Wisconsin Now has called for her to resign. In response, Bradley’s campaign has called the request “absurd.”

Bradley was again in the news after a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story reported that she was involved in representing a man she was romantically involved with in a divorce and custody proceeding.

Meanwhile, the conservative group Wisconsin Alliance for Reform has accused Kloppenburg of not being tough enough on criminals and not protecting children. In fact, they plan on spending $700,000 in the next few weeks on ads targeting Kloppenburg in efforts to stop her election to the court.
Overall, outside interest groups have spent an estimated $13.2 million on issue ads alone since 2007 on behalf of Supreme Court candidates, according to data compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

In theird second debate of the campaign at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Friday, March 18 both candidates reiterated their positions on conflict of interest, influences of outside groups and campaign ads.

“I’ve shown through 700-plus opinions that I apply the law to the facts in the record in a fair and impartial manner and in a focused and disciplined manner,” Kloppenburg said.

Bradley noted, “We’re people. We have opinions. Once we put the robe on we set those opinions aside.”

On the topic of campaign ads, Bradley said the ads, “provides more information to the voters for them to consider.”

Kloppenburg contended that the ads often misrepresent the facts and are “a source of concern to people around the state.”

According to the latest Marquette Law School Poll, each candidate has the support of 30 percent of those polled, while 31 percent remain undecided. The two face off April 5.