Tag Archives: retention

Endorsement | Vote for Bradley and against changing rules of selecting chief justice

WiG endorses Justice Ann Walsh Bradley for retention and urges voters to reject the referendum that calls for changing the way that the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s chief justice is selected.

Bradley’s experience and principled stands in many controversial cases, including recusing herself from cases in which there’s any hint of conflict of interest, should earn her a third term.

The Republican-dominated Wisconsin Legislature in January passed a constitutional amendment that would change how state Supreme Court justices pick their leader, adopting a new method that would give them the advantage. Voters on April 7 will be asked to decide the proposed constitutional amendment.

This represents the unseemly infusion of yet more politics into the state’s highest court. In 2009, Wisconsinites voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to a 10-year term, knowing that she would remain chief justice. The amendment would negate the result of that election. 

The Wisconsin Constitution states that the justice with the most seniority becomes chief justice. But the court’s conservative majority wants to get rid of Abrahamson, who has ruled several times against Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. The Republican-authored amendment would allow the justices themselves rather than seniority to determine the court’s chief, allowing the conservative majority to oust Abrahamson.

Bradley urges voters to reject the amendment.

“To change the constitution because you don’t like the style of a certain justice would be a terrible mistake,” Bradley said. “The constitution is a sacred document. It defines who we are as a people and what we stand for as a state. To use it as a tool for political payback is a big mistake.”

We agree.

In her re-election campaign, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley calls for throwing politics out of court

Judicial positions are nominally non-partisan, but any illusion that’s the case evaporated long ago. There’s no better illustration than the efforts of right-wing Republicans to oust two-term incumbent Justice Ann Walsh Bradley on April 7.  Her loss would give conservatives a 5–2 advantage on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

 Bradley’s opponent — Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley — denies he has any ideological bias, but he’s sent out tweets using the hashtag #tcot, which stands for “top conservatives on Twitter.” He admits that the Republican Party helped circulate his nominating papers and he’s appeared at GOP gatherings throughout the state, promoting his conservative agenda and asking for help.

Daley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he’s attended those events simply to speak with voters who are most likely to share his philosophy. He called Bradley an “activist judge,” a criticism that Republicans in the state frequently aim at judges who’ve issued opinions against Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda, including his union-busting Act 10 and his law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.

In a conversation with WiG, Bradley blasted Daley for being co-opted by the Republican Party and for having Republican operatives on his campaign staff. She said her campaign did not accept help from the Democratic Party to circulate her nominating papers and that her campaign would not accept contributions from political parties or attorneys and litigants with pending cases.

In fact, Bradley said that maintaining judicial independence is the centerpiece of her retention bid. It’s not only unethical for partisanship and campaign donations to influence application of the law, she said, but it also erodes the public’s perception of a fair justice system.

Knowing that conservatives would probably spend massive amounts of money on advertising and TV commercials that misrepresent her record, Bradley thought long and hard about seeking a third term on the bench.

“I know what is coming in the last few days or weeks of the campaign,” she said.

But it’s that knowledge that ultimately determined her decision to run. “I think it’s time to stop this influx of partisanship in the judiciary,” she said. “My vision of a judiciary is different from what we’ve seen in the recent past.”

According to Bradley, Wisconsin ranks No. 2 in the nation for special interest advertising in judicial races — behind only Pennsylvania.

“It’s not this way in other states, and it doesn’t have to be this way in Wisconsin,” she said.

But, for now, partisanship dominates. Major corporate money, including third-party donations from such lobbying groups as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Koch brothers-backed Wisconsin Club for Growth are expected to flow into the campaign of Bradley’s opponent. Together the two groups spent an estimated $8.3 million for “issue ads” helping to elect conservative Justices Annette Ziegler, Michael Gableman, David Prosser and Patience Roggensack, according to wiconsinwatch.org. That amount dwarfs the $3.2 million spent by those same justices on their own campaigns.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

See also: page one story about this race that appeared on The New York Times’ cover

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Bradley braces for infusion of right-wing money against her reelection campaign

The Wisconsin Supreme Court currently has a 4–3 conservative tilt, but if right-wing Republican groups succeed in ousting two-term incumbent justice Ann Walsh Bradley from the bench on April 7, the state’s highest court will move farther rightward, with a solid majority of 5–2.

To ensure this happens, major corporate money, including third-party donations from such lobbying groups as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Koch brothers-backed Wisconsin Club for Growth, is expected to flow into the campaign of Bradley’s opponent. Together the two groups spent an estimated $8.3 million for “issue ads” helping to elect conservative justices Annette Ziegler, Michael Gableman, David Prosser and Patience Roggensack, according to wiconsinwatch.org. That amount dwarfs the $3.2 million spent by those same judges on their own campaigns.

Judicial positions are nominally non-partisan, but any illusion that’s the case evaporated long ago. Bradley’s opponent — Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley — denies he has any ideological bias, but he’s sent out tweets using the hashtag #tcot, which stands for “top conservatives on Twitter.” He admits that the Republican Party helped circulate his nominating papers, and he’s appeared at GOP gatherings throughout the state promoting his conservative agenda and asking for help.

Daley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he’s attended those events simply to speak with voters who are most likely to share his philosophy. He called Bradley an “activist judge,” a criticism that Republicans in the state frequently aim at judges who’ve issued opinions against Gov. Scott Walker’s policy agenda, including his union-busting Act 10 and his law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.

In a conversation with WiG, Bradley blasted Daley for co-opting the Republican agenda and for having Republican operatives on his campaign staff. She said that her campaign did not accept help from the Democratic Party to circulate her nominating papers and that her campaign would not accept contributions from political parties or attorneys and litigants with pending cases.

In fact, Bradley said that maintaining judicial independence is the centerpiece of her retention bid. It’s not only unethical for partisanship and campaign donations to influence application of the law, she said, but it also erodes the public’s perception of a fair justice system.

Knowing that conservatives would probably spend massive amounts of money on advertising and TV commercials that misrepresent her record, Bradley thought long and hard about seeking a third term on the bench.

“I know what is coming in the last few days or weeks of the campaign,” she said.

But it’s that knowledge that ultimately determined her decision to run. “I think it’s time to stop this influx of partisanship in the judiciary,” she said. “My vision of a judiciary is different form what we’ve seen in the recent past five years.”

According to Bradley, Wisconsin ranks No. 2 in the nation for special interest advertising in judicial races — behind only Pennsylvania.

“It’s not this way in other states, and it doesn’t have to be this way in Wisconsin,” she said.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Group forms to protect Iowa judge from right-wing revenge

A newly formed group is spearheading an effort to retain an Iowa Supreme Court justice who others are trying to oust because of his support of a ruling that legalized gay marriage in the state.

Justice Not Politics Action announced a campaign last week to support the retention of David Wiggins and all other judges on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

“Iowa judges have a strong tradition of ruling based on law,” Sally Pederson, former Iowa lieutenant governor and chairwoman of Justice Not Politics Action, said in a statement Thursday.

Voting to retain judges is a “vote to protect our courts,” Pederson said.

“Iowa Democrats, Republicans and independents need to stand together to prevent out-of-state special interest groups from intimidating our judges by threatening to spend millions to oust them,” she said.

Justice Not Politics Action signed up supporters and distribute campaign materials at the Iowa-Northern Iowa football game Saturday in Iowa City.

Wiggins is one of seven justices involved in the 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. He’s the fourth justice in the case to come up for a retention vote. Three others were booted off the bench by voters in 2010 following an ouster campaign led by Iowans for Freedom, an offshoot of the conservative group Family Leader.

Iowans for Freedom has promised a campaign aimed at driving Wiggins from office. Those opposed to retaining Wiggins plan to embark on a four-city “No Wiggins” bus tour in the state starting Sept. 24 from Des Moines.

“We are very passionate about our effort to restore integrity to the Iowa Supreme Court by ensuring the constitutional intent for the separation of powers,” said Bob Vander Plaats, state chairman of Iowans for Freedom, in a news release earlier this month announcing the bus tour.

“This is a freedom issue and we believe that voting ‘No’ on Wiggins will help preserve freedoms, the constitution, and the integrity of the judicial system,” he said.