Kloppenburg v. Prosser – Critical for Democracy

On Tuesday, one of the most important elections in recent memory takes place. There is no presidency on the line, nor a critical senate seat. At stake with the State Supreme Court Seat is the very essence of our Constitution. The ability of each branch of government to operate as a check and balance is critical to the “separation of powers,” as discussed previously on this blog. As demonstrated by Judge Sumi’s continued order on Friday, the Judicial Branch can check a potentially illegal and unconstitutional law from taking effect – creating undue hardship on thousands of citizens. The overwhelming testimony in this case would compel any rational Judge to see strong evidence that the law was broken; yet she recognized the Legislative immunity impact by allowing time for lawyers to submit clarifying opinion on the matter. She is showing thorough understanding of the law and non-partisanship, and it will leave little room for appeal when her final decision is declared. 

The current actions of the Executive and Legislative branches demonstrate the need for an independent thinker, and a critical thinking judge, especially with the potential of this entire Act appearing before the Supreme Court. David Prosser is NOT that justice. His history as a legislator shows a great deal of partisanship. He has only worked with and for Republicans – as an Administrative Assistant to Harold Vernon Froelich (Rep.Congressman during Watergate), to 17 years in the State Assembly (serving as minority leader and Assembly Speaker). After being defeated in 1996 in a Congressional bid, Tommy Thompson appointed him to oversee the Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission. He worked for 3 years (1969-1972) as an attorney/advisor with the US Department of Justice in Washington DC; but has limited experience arguing cases before any significant court. He was a legislator, working with and for conservative Republicans. In 1998, he was nominated by Tommy Thompson to the Supreme Court, who called him a conservative. The evidence of his alignment is clear. The Priest molestation aside (not that it is insignificant – it is; the poor judgement he used in taking the information to the Archdiocese and trusting their pledge to “take care of it” is completely irresponsible and immoral) – Prosser has shown too many biased opinions to be thought of as impartial. His outspokenness and willingness to testify on behalf of Scott Jensen (use of legislative staff for campaigning) demonstrates complete disregard for campaign and political ethics. He has opined that judges need not recuse themselves in regard to campaign finance conflicts; that court records should have limited public access; and that he would not recuse himself from the potential upcoming Budget Repair Case – in spite of his contributors having a vested interest in its passage. During a discussion about this issue with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, he admitted to calling her a “a total bitch” and threatening to “destroy her.” Very unbecoming conduct for an Associate Justice. Most telling, he has been an invited speaker at Tea Party Conventions in 2010.

Joanne Kloppenburg has served a more bi-partisan role in her tenure with the Department of Justice. She has served under both Democrat and Republican Attorneys General, has argued before the Federal Appellate court and the State Supreme Court, and worked for Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. In her diverse experience she has worked in Botswana, and graduated with honors from both Yale and the UW Law school. In over 20 years at the DOJ, she has worked within every aspect of the political and legal system. She is the candidate capable of maintaining her independence and thoughtfulness when the integrity of the Judicial Branch of Government is at stake. She deserves to represent the people on the Supreme Court. It is our duty and obligation to vote (if you haven’t already) on Tuesday. There has not been a more important election in Wisconsin for a long time. Get out the vote!


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