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Letter To The People - March 2015

Publisher's Commentary by Rökker
Ann Walsh Bradley

My friend, Jeff Scott Olson, is a civil rights lawyer. He’s defended many cases in his career including some memorable ones including Ben Masel and even more recently the protest singers up at the Capitol. He wrote this little ditty about the next election and the Supreme Court referendum that is up for vote, and it’s significance. Please vote, and make yourself aware of this issue.

“On April 7, we will have an election. One of the things on the ballot is a statewide referendum to change the manner of selecting the chief Justice of the state Supreme court from seniority to election by the justices. Nothing wrong with thinking that might be a better system, but all systems have their strengths and weaknesses. The reason the Republican legislature has placed the measure on the ballot now is that they dislike our current Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson. The Wisconsin Constitution is a sacred document and should never be altered to target one person. Here is why you ought to Vote “no.”

The Wisconsin Constitution—and many other state constitutions—are sacred documents. The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution was intended to restrain the power of a central government. Wisconsin’s Constitution was intended to memorialize what its authors thought of as “natural law,” rights that came from God—some atheists thought the universe but still believed in natural law—and belonged to every person, no matter what force, governmental or private, might seek to attack human freedom, privacy and dignity. Properly interpreted, the “natural law” state constitutions are much better tools for defending human rights than the Bill of Rights. To change our Constitution to target one person would be a repudiation of its historic magnificence.

Here’s another note on the spring election April 7. The state-wide race on the ballot is for Supreme Court Justice. The incumbent is Ann Walsh Bradley. I went to law school with her, and though her primary residence remains in Wausau, her family maintains a condo here in Madison, where I live, for when the Court is in session, so I see her all the time.

No gentler person or more reasonable and intelligent servant of the public was ever created, but I know that millions of dollars of out-of-state attack ads will soon be portraying her on television as some terrible lunatic I have never met.

Big money purchases of state supreme court seats via ugly tv ads are so so common that John Grisham wrote a book about the phenomenon in Mississippi, The Appeal. It will not be a first for Wisconsin, either, as Justice Louis Butler learned.

I don’t expect folks who read this to have informed opinions about all of the legal questions that might come before the court. But I do think everyone can understand that a vote for Justice Bradley is a vote against selling off our state supreme courts to the highest bidders, and I hope everyone CAN get behind that.

Spread the word—a few voters can make a big difference in a spring election.”

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