On Monday March 21, Supreme Court Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg met at a debate at the Marquette University Law School. The two candidates took questions from former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, Patrick Marley of the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, J.R. Ross of Wispolitics.com, and Mike Gousha of WISN. The debate covered a broad range of topics from the recent rancor that seems to divide the court, the Impartial Justice Act, former cases, the Gableman case, and the current issues revolving around the Budget Repair Bill debate.
Below are a few important segments from the debate that prove quite revealing about Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg's adequacy for the high court.
In this segment, Justice David Prosser notes that on JoAnne Kloppenburg's campaign Facebook page, she has allowed rhetoric that links her election to overturning the Budget Repair Bill. In addition, Justice Prosser notes that there have been personal attacks made against him on the page as well as Governor Walker. The site has also been a rallying point for information regarding recall petitions and anti-Walker protests. Kloppenburg does not disavow these posts on her page but goes on to say that there is "nothing untrue" about these posts. Media Trackers first brought Kloppenburg's Facebook page to light in a March 7 article that details many of these posts.
In this next segment, Justice Prosser is asked about "taking the lead" in declaring the raid on the Patient's Compensation Fund to be unconstitutional. Prosser explains how the actions taken by the legislature on behalf of Governor Jim Doyle's attempt to balance the budget was "not right and a total violation of the law."
When Kloppenburg is given a chance to respond, she explains how she believes it to be "inappropriate that Justice Prosser would use that Patient Compensation Fund decision as an advertisement to seek political support." But this is a part of Justice Prosser's record as a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It is a decision that he authored. Isn't this exactly the type of thing people ought to be evaluating when deciding whether to return Justice Prosser to the bench?
In this clip, the candidates are asked about whether state Supreme Court justices ought to be appointed or elected. Kloppenburg goes first and seems to lean towards a system of appointment. In so doing, she explains her belief that Congress ought to "lead the way" in reducing issue ads despite being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as First Amendment rights. Justice Prosser calls her out on this saying "Congress has no business tampering with judicial elections in Wisconsin."
In this final clip, JoAnne Kloppenburg is asked if there is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice that she admires. She explains that she has "followed" Justice John Paul Stevens, particularly on how his position on the death penalty has evolved. Kloppenburg goes on to explain that "you can't set your ideas in concrete." What is troubling is that her ideas are not going to be rooted in the Constitution or the rule of law but in seemingly nothing. Is this really the "impartiality" she is selling to the people of Wisconsin?
Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg will be on the ballot on April 5.