Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg deserves a seat on the state Supreme Court

On experience and temperament, Kloppenburg is the better choice

An election for the state Supreme Court is being held on April 5. The incumbent candidate, herself never elected to the position but instead appointed to it by the current governor, is facing a strong challenge from another candidate who nearly unseated a different justice five years ago.

Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg is deserving of the seat currently held by Justice Rebecca Bradley, and I happily throw my endorsement behind her knowing that she will be a great addition to the court.

Kloppenburg has several years of experience dealing with Wisconsin law, dating as far back as 1989 when she was appointed by a Republican to serve as an Assistant Attorney General for the state. She served in that capacity for 23 years under both Democratic and Republican Attorneys General before becoming a judge for Wisconsin’s Fourth District Court of Appeals. She has been on both sides of the bench, arguing cases before judges and justices as well as being a judge herself.

Rebecca Bradley, while also boasting an impressive resume, doesn’t have the same bona fides. She has been appointed to three different judicial positions over the past three years by Gov. Scott Walker, including her latest stint at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She received her juris doctorate after Kloppenburg had already been working as Assistant Attorney General for over seven years. When it comes to experience, although both can claim to have stellar resumes, those who are looking for the better of the two should look toward Kloppenburg over Bradley.

This edge in experience becomes evident when you look to the judicial philosophy pages on both candidates’ websites. Kloppenburg takes time to craft a detailed portrait of how she rules, citing cases that she’s written the opinion for to demonstrate how she comes to her decisions. She also explains what role the state Supreme Court should play in our government, and goes on to talk about how the “judiciary takes its power from the trust of the people: the trust that justice is being dispensed equally, that laws are being applied fairly, that everyone gets a fair hearing, and that Judges come to each case with an open mind and decide each case without fear or favor.”

Bradley’s judicial philosophy site, on the other hand, is a mere two paragraphs long. In addition to its briefness, it is also very vague, and indeed could have been written by any judicial candidate across any part of the country -- in other words, it reads very much like a “cookie-cutter” type response, and doesn’t explain in any detail how Bradley will determine her future decisions or provide any background to how she has reached them in the past. Simplicity may appeal to some, but for such an important decision where the winner will go on to serve for ten years, Wisconsin voters deserve to know more.

This is a state Supreme Court election, and it’s not uncommon for candidates to guard how they might rule on a given subject. Both candidates have been reluctant to express whether they’re “for” or “against” certain topics, and that is expected.

But the citizenry is owed certain assurances that explain how a justice will come up with an opinion. Additionally, they want an answer that provides some measure of consistency. We receive that from Kloppenburg; but from Bradley, it’s less clear.

We're left to assume that Bradley's process is less than ideal for what we want in a justice. As I’ve demonstrated in previous posts, Bradley’s decision-making seems much more partisan in nature, derived from what’s common conservative political thought at the time of her opinion rather than sound judicial principles.

Her previous writings provide evidence of this. In the early 1990s while Bradley was writing vitriolic columns in her college newspaper, her opinions echoed much of what conservative thought was on gay individuals with HIV and women who were victims of date rape. In 2006 when she wrote an op-ed defending the right of pharmacists to deny women their contraceptives, she did so due to an errant belief that such medication were abortifacients, again a common belief of many on the right.

She has since apologized for her previous writings, but nothing in what she’s said implies that she still doesn’t come to her opinions in such a manner.

I’m comfortable with having JoAnne Kloppenburg sitting on the state’s highest court. She has the experience and temperament needed to fill the position, and would be a fitting replacement for the late Justice Patrick Crooks. Rebecca Bradley, on the other hand, demonstrates that while she has an impressive resume, she might be better suited as a member of the legislature than as an impartial justice of the Supreme Court.

I will vote for Kloppenburg on April 5. I encourage you to consider doing the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment