My column for the Daily News is online. It’s called, “Vote for Roggensack for high court.” Here it is.
While I know that many of us Wisconsinites have been bruised and battered by elections as of late, there is another important election coming up next month. It is a critical election for the future of Wisconsin.
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin is constituted of seven justices. Currently, four of them are considered judicial conservatives and the other three are considered judicial liberals. It is important to differentiate judicial conservatism and liberalism from political conservatism or liberalism. Judicial conservatives strongly adhere to the literal word of the constitution and written law and view the court as a firm but properly limited part of the triumvirate of balanced government. Judicial liberals take liberty with the perceived intent of the constitution and written law and view the court as an activist arm of government to enact their perceived will of the people.
Justice Pat Roggensack has been serving on the court since 2003 and, by all accounts, has been a superb juror and rigorous defender of the Wisconsin’s constitution. She is universally respected by lawyers on both sides of the aisle for her intelligence and respected for being a brilliant jurist. Even in the recent turmoil between justices on the court, Justice Roggensack has been on the sidelines. In short, Justice Roggensack is everything Wisconsinites should want from a justice — reserved, conservative, thoughtful and fair.
But that has not been good enough for the liberals in this state.
As the liberals see it, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently dominated by four judicial conservatives and three judicial liberals. In other words, those who would uphold the constitution and the law as written out vote those who would use the court to advance liberal agendas. In the liberals’ minds, this will not do.
After all, if liberal justices dominated the court and were willing to overstep the court’s authority regarding the other two branches of government currently led by Republicans in Wisconsin, the liberals could advance their agenda — or at least stop the Republican agenda — by winning this one race.
To this end, the liberals have advanced one of their own to challenge Justice Roggensack.
Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone is a liberal professor who has often spoken in public advocating liberal causes. His campaign thrust is to rectify the perceived dysfunction on the court. There have been numerous stories of justices bickering and even coming to blows. Fallone seeks to be the salve to that wound and supposedly lead the court to a new era of harmony and bliss.
The problem with Fallone’s thrust is that Roggensack has never been associated with those past rifts in the court. If anything, she has been the passive observer and steady moderate. Replacing Roggensack would not do anything to adjust the collective temperament of the justices. Only replacing one of the true hotheads on the court, like Justice Abrahamson, will more the court to more civility.
The choice, then, in the election, is to pick a justice who will serve for the next decade. It is worth noting that while Fallone is offering the choice of another liberal justice, he has not managed to put forth a single rational legal challenge to any of her decisions over the past decade. One would think that a law professor could articulate a more lucid legal opposition, but Fallone’s campaign is apparently grounded in little more than “I’m not Roggensack.” That is true enough, but hardly enough to justify throwing out a justice who has served with such distinction.
But let us understand the real stakes. Fallone is being supported by the rabid anti-Walker crowd that sees the Supreme Court as the last bastion to defeat Gov. Walker’s policies. To them, it does not matter that Roggensack has served with intelligence and distinction for a decade. All they want is a reliable liberal vote on the bench and Fallone would be that reliable liberal vote.
Justice Roggensack has earned our esteem and deserves another term. Vote for Roggensack.