Boots & Sabers

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1043, 25 Mar 23

An activist court is a dangerous court

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

The election on April 4 presents an unambiguous choice for voters about the future of Wisconsin. Daniel Kelly would keep the Wisconsin Supreme Court on its constitutionally humble and conservative path. Janet Protasiewicz has already trumpeted the kind of activism she would wage to turn the high court into a political weapon for leftist causes. As we have seen in other states, leftists do not have any qualms about muscling political victories through the courts when their ideas fail to win public support at the ballot box.


In recent weeks we have learned that Protasiewicz is not just the ardent activist who protested against Act 10 and giddily shares how she will tip the scales of justice when her “values” demand it. Not only have we learned that her long judicial record is one of callous disregard for victims of violent crime as she coddled felons. We also learned from Wisconsin Right Now’s reporting that she allegedly abused her first husband, who was over thirty years older than she, and that two witnesses have come forward who heard her regularly use racial slurs when she was a Milwaukee prosecutor.


The optimist in me hopes that some of Wisconsin’s leftists would feel the twang of guilt about voting for someone with such deep character flaws, but the realist in me understands that they are more interested in outcomes even if the vessel that delivers them is cracked. They will vote for Protasiewicz in droves. The rest of this column, therefore, is directed at conservatives who need to understand the gravity of the election and get off their duffs to vote.


The thing about judicial activists is that nothing is safe. Policies that were correctly adjudicated long ago by the court and considered settled will be resurfaced by activists to get a different outcome. Protasiewicz has already said that she considers Act 10 to be unconstitutional and Wisconsin’s electoral maps rigged, so expect those to be overturned by a Protasiewicz-led court. That will just be the start of an avalanche of legal activism to roll back important policies.


During Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, Wisconsin made giant strides to being Wisconsin closer to the Founders’ guarantees in the Second Amendment. The Legislature passed Wisconsin’s first concealed carry law to allow law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment protection to “keep and bear arms.” The Legislature further protected citizens by enacting the castle doctrine, a simple, but important, law that presumes that someone is under imminent threat if a thug forcibly enters their home, vehicle, or business.


As is their compulsion, leftists sued to overturn both concealed carry and castle doctrine policies when they lost the policy debate at the ballot box. Both policies were upheld by the courts. According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, over 700,000 Wisconsinites have been issued concealed carry permits since 2011. If Protasiewicz is elected, we can expect those hundreds of thousands of licenses to be canceled. And no, it does not matter what the law or Constitution actually says. Judicial activists care not for the constraints of law. That is the point.


One thing that the pandemic reminded us is that in times of trouble, our government schools will choose institutional interests over the welfare of children every time. Given the decades of declining performance, increasing violence, and curricular malfeasance, this bureaucratic colonialism should have been obvious, but their collective response to the pandemic has crystalized their priorities.


Wisconsin’s school choice programs have been offering children an alternative path to getting a quality education and a successful future. When Gov. Tommy Thompson pioneered school choice in Milwaukee, the leftist institutional interests fought back in court. After a heated legal battle, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutionally permissible for religious schools to participate in the Milwaukee School Choice program. The U.S. Supreme Court later declined to hear a challenge to the law, thus ending the legal challenge. The vote on the Wisconsin Supreme Court was decided by a single vote. Had one justice ruled the other way, generations of Wisconsin’s children would still be trapped in failing schools and doomed to navigating life without a quality education.


Since that Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in 1998, the Legislature has steadily expanded Wisconsin’s school choice programs to benefit hundreds of thousands of children throughout the state. Should Protasiewicz be elected, expect those monied interests who want to build barbed-wire fences to keep our children in their failed institutions to relaunch their legal challenges to school choice knowing that a Protasiewicz-led court will rule in their favor. Janet Protasiewicz is telling anyone who will listen how she will vote on issues brought before the court and how she considers it her duty to put her finger on the scales of justice when the law says otherwise. Listen to her. In this, she is telling the truth.


1043, 25 March 2023


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