My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:
The Rule of Law is the critical foundation of a free society and underpins Western civilization. The Rule of Law is the principle that all people, from prices to paupers, are subject to the same laws. As John Locke put it in his Second Treatise on Government, “freedom of men under government is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man.”
It is the Rule of Law that protects people from arbitrary tyrannical rule. In a society where the Rule of Law is in force, the role of a judge is simply to enforce the law as it is written. If the judge thinks that the law is wrong, a judicial conservative is bound by duty to apply the law anyway because it is the role of the legislature to change the law – not the judge.
Janet Protasiewicz has a very different approach to the law. Protasiewicz is proudly embracing the “progressive” (read: socialist) label and is sharing her opinion on all sorts of issues that may come before the court. She has said that the state’s electoral maps are “rigged,” that a woman’s right to abort her baby is a decision that should “be made solely by her,” that Act 10 is “unconstitutional,” and she has a long record as a Milwaukee County Judge of coddling hardened violent criminals – including child sex offenders. Protasiewicz’s approach to the law is to use her position as a means to reach outcomes that align with her personal values and convictions irrespective of what the law actually says. It is the kind of judicial activism that obliterates the Rule of Law.
As if to try to assuage concerns about her vocal activism, Protasiewicz said on “Capital City Sunday,” “What I will tell you is that [for] the bulk of issues there’s no thumb on the scale, but I will also tell you that I’ll call them as I see them. and I’ll tell you what my values are in regards to [the abortion] issue, because this issue is so critically important.” In other words, Protasiewicz is telling us that when she considers the case before her to be critically important, as measured against her values, she is more than willing to put her thumb on the scales of justice.
This is the definition of judicial activism. This is not only grossly unethical, but also antithetical to the Rule of Law.