Tag: Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Joe Donald: Not an independent-minded jurist

Milwaukee County (WI) Circuit Judge and Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Joe Donald has made his claim of being an independent-minded jurist pretty much his entire campaign for state supreme court.

In reality, he’s just another politician in the political old boys and girls network in Milwaukee that includes people like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee County Executive Chris “Boss” Abele. In fact, Donald has supported Scott Walker’s hand-picked Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, Rebecca Bradley, on multiple occasions prior to Bradley being appointed to Wisconsin’s highest bench:

On Friday a WisPolitics report (unfortunately hidden behind a paywall) highlighted Judge Joe Donald’s past support of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley. According to the report Donald, one of two challengers vying to unseat Bradley, served as a reference on Bradley’s application for an appointment to the 1st District Court of Appeals and endorsed her campaign to retain a seat on the Milwaukee County bench in 2013.

When Rebecca Bradley, one of the most far-right judges in the entire country, ran for public office for the first time (for election to a full term to a Milwaukee County circuit judgeship that she was originally appointed to by Scott Walker), guess who was one of her biggest supporters…Joe Donald. When Rebecca Bradley sought a political appointment from Scott Walker to a seat on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, guess who Bradley listed as her reference…Joe Donald.

The truth of the matter is that Joe Donald is too connected to the political old boys and girls network in Milwaukee, which also includes people like Rebecca Bradley, Chris Abele, and Scott Walker, to be a truly independent justice. There is only one candidate who will be a truly independent justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court if elected, and that candidate is JoAnne Kloppenburg. Unlike her opponents, Rebecca Bradley and Joe Donald, Kloppenburg will interpret the U.S. Constitution, the Wisconsin Constitution, and federal and state laws if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, not engage in any kind of judicial activism or making political decisions from the bench.

The non-partisan primary for Wisconsin Supreme Court is February 16. The top two candidates in the primary (likely Bradley and either Kloppenburg or Donald) will advance to the April 5 general election.

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ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

Early next year, there will be an election to determine who will be elected to the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was held by Justice Patrick Crooks prior to his death earlier this month. I whole-heartedly endorse JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge, for the seat.

Since this seat is vacant, but up for election early next year, Republican Governor Scott Walker will appoint someone to the seat, and that individual will serve the remainder of Crooks’s term. Next year’s election is for a full ten-year term, and I am endorsing Kloppenburg for the election to a full ten-year term. I would encourage Walker to appoint Former Wisconsin State Representative Kelda Roys to the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, but Walker isn’t going to appoint her or anyone else who is not a full-blown right-wing ideologue.

Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, Kloppenburg served as a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General under both Democratic (Peg Lautenschlager) and Republican (J.B. Van Hollen) state attorneys general, and she now serves as a state appellate court judge in Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, which covers 24 counties (map here) in the south-central, southwestern, and central parts of Wisconsin. If elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, she’ll be an impartial interpreter of Wisconsin’s constitution and laws, not a judicial activist of any kind.

Walker will most likely appoint Rebecca Bradley, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge from the Milwaukee area, to the vacant seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley was running for the seat prior to Crooks’s death and is still running for the seat. Bradley has earned a reputation as a far-right judicial activist. Bradley was once the president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of far-right judicial activists who believe in using the courts to implement a far-right political agenda that would cost America millions of jobs and undermine the civil liberties of the American people. Furthermore, Bradley is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization that, among other things, supports voter suppression schemes designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote.

The third candidate in next year’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race is Joe Donald, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, who, if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, would become the first elected black justice, and second black justice overall, on Wisconsin’s highest bench. While Donald has endorsements from some progressives, most notably Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, he’s accepted campaign cash from Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic Leader who supported Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Judges should be as independent as possible from state legislators and other elected officials, not accepting campaign cash from them.

If you’re a Wisconsinite who wants an actual justice who will interpret Wisconsin’s constitution and laws in a non-partisan manner, then vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg next spring! The non-partisan primary, provided that at least three candidates make the ballot (three candidates are currently campaigning for the seat), will be held in February of 2016, and the general election will be held in April of 2016.