Saturday, July 23, 2016

Walker’s refusal to discuss Daniel Kelly’s writings inspires no confidence in his court selection

Governor and his state Supreme Court pick won’t discuss the reasons why he was selected

Elections have consequences. Sometimes, those consequences have long-standing results that can’t simply be overturned by the following election season -- they last for years beyond the ballot being cast.

One of the consequences of electing Gov. Scott Walker in 2014 was that it inevitably led him to run for president just weeks after he was elected. That put a sour taste in people’s mouths, and as he sought to court the conservative base throughout the nation he moved even further to the right than he had already planted himself as in the state.

It’s no wonder that Walker’s approval rating now stands at 38 percent, with nearly six-in-ten now disapproving of his performance as governor. Still, Walker’s victory in 2014 means he’ll serve until at least the start of 2019, which means he’s still capable of creating more problems for our state.

His decision to select Daniel Kelly as the state’s next Supreme Court justice, replacing retiring Justice David Prosser, is alarming to say the least. It also signifies that Walker plans to double-down on his far-right conservatism, at the expense of Wisconsin values. We knew that Walker would select someone with conservative bona fides, but Kelly’s are downright scary.

From the reporting of Katelyn Ferral in the Cap Times, we see that Kelly has in the past compared Affirmative Action to slavery. “Affirmative action and slavery differ, obviously, in significant ways,” he once wrote. “But it’s more a question of degree than principle, for they both spring from the same taproot.”

He’s also none too keen on same-sex marriage rights, and has represented conservatives -- including Scott Walker -- in many of the state’s most contentious legal battles.

From Molly Beck in the Wisconsin State Journal:
Kelly represented state Republicans in a federal trial over a lawsuit challenging the 2010 redrawing of legislative districts and has ties to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which has helped defend Act 10, Walker’s legislation that all but eliminated collective bargaining powers for most public employees.
Kelly and Walker were asked about the former’s previous outspoken conservative views, which he’s made plenty of in the past, and whether that would influence his decision making as a justice of the state’s highest court. Kelly and Walker both dismissed those concerns as unnecessary to answer. (Emphasis in bold added)
When questioned by reporters during Walker’s press conference, Kelly said it is not appropriate for Supreme Court justices to discuss personal or political opinions and that they have no role in his job as a justice.

“The role of the courts is separate and apart from our roles as individuals in our society,” Kelly said.

When pressed, Walker would not allow Kelly to personally answer any questions about the writings he cited in his application for the appointment as evidence of his judicial philosophy.
Even the semblance of partiality and impropriety makes the decisions of judges and justices suspicious in nature (this isn’t my own thinking -- it’s in the guidelines of the state’s judicial code of conduct). Yet Walker is essentially saying, “Those things that we read about him and that influenced our decision to pick him? Yeah, we’re not going to talk about them. Move along...”

Which inspires very little confidence in the pick that Walker made. And it’s an added reason why the citizens across this state can’t trust this current court to issue out impartial decisions that will reflect Wisconsin values.

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