If assistant Attorney General Joanne Kloppenburg prevails in her race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, she will replace right-wing Justice David Prosser, who’s up for retention on April 5.
Unlike Prosser, Kloppen-burg believes there’s no room for politics in interpreting the law. She objects to an early campaign press release from Prosser in which he announced his intention to “complement” the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker and his new GOP majority.
“You cannot bring political partisanship to the courts, because people will lose all confidence that they’ve had a fair shake,” Kloppenburg says. “People will get a fairer day in court the more justices can put aside their political beliefs and focus on the law and the facts. The court is a check on overreaching of the other branches of government. It’s not there to support them.”
Kloppenburg says the hyper-partisanship of Prosser and other justices has led to the backbiting and divisiveness that have undermined the court’s reputation and authority in recent years.
“I’m not going to be partisan. I’m going to be fair, and I will uphold the constitution and people’s equality,” Kloppenburg says. “And I won’t be afraid of being subject to recall by special interests who don’t like the way the law is written, as happened in Iowa.”
Kloppenburg’s resume demonstrates a lifelong commitment to fairness. She and her husband joined the Peace Corps shortly after they were married and served in Botswana from 1976 to 1979. After returning to the United States, she worked in an impoverished area of New York establishing WIC programs, providing health and nutrition services for low-income women and children.
Active in community life in Madison, Kloppenburg volunteers for nonprofit groups and as an ESL tutor. She also served on a task force for battered women and is a member of her neighborhood association board.
Kloppenburg graduated with honors from UW-Madison law school in 1988. She did her undergraduate work at Princeton and also has a master’s degree in public affairs from Yale University.
Kloppenburg clerked for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who became her first mentor. “I learned from her that there are very real people behind every case, and a judge owes them a clear, careful, comprehensive evaluation of the law and the facts,” she says.
Kloppenburg joined the Wisconsin Department of Justice in 1989 as a prosecutor in environmental law. She has served since under attorney generals from both parties, including current Republican J.B. Van Hollen. She’s litigated throughout the state, including before
the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Kloppenburg says she has supporters from both sides of the political aisle. The state’s most extreme right groups are backing Prosser in the race, warning that if he’s defeated, then conservatives will lose their 4-3 edge on the Supreme Court.
Prosser, who is anti-choice, is unmarried and childless. In 2008, he sided with a lawyer who brought a frivolous suit against the gay rights group Action Wisconsin.
The case involved Louisiana preacher Grant Storms, an anti-gay crusader. Action Wisconsin said he advocated the murder of gays during a speech in Milwaukee. Storms sued, charging the group with defaming him, but the suit was dismissed. A circuit court ordered him to pay the group $87,000 in court costs.
The Supreme Court upheld that decision 4-3, with Prosser joining the dissent.
Storms was arrested last month in Metarie, La., and charged with obscenity after two women said they saw him masturbating in his van while watching children on a playground.
At a press conference, Storms apologized for his anti-gay actions in the past. He admitted an addiction to pornography.
For more information about Joanne Kloppenburg, go to www.kloppenburgforjustice.com.