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In the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg has cast Justice Rebecca Bradley as a conservative who is too cozy with the Republican Party and GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who appointed Bradley to three judgeships in three years.
But Kloppenburg, a state Court of Appeals judge in Madison, has made contributions over the years to Democratic candidates and is benefitting from the work of liberal groups such as One Wisconsin Now.
Bradley, in turn, has sought to cast Kloppenburg as a judge who would rule on cases based on her personal biases. In a March 21, 2016 interview on Wisconsin Public Radio’s "Joy Cardin Show," Bradley said:
"Given her judicial philosophy, JoAnne Kloppenburg has told us she thinks it's her job to promote a more equal society. She will most definitely introduce her social and political beliefs into her decision making."
We don’t know, of course, just what Kloppenburg would do as a Supreme Court justice.
But what has Kloppenburg said about what her job is as a judge, and about promoting a more equal society?
On her campaign website, Kloppenburg states this as being her judicial philosophy:
"I apply the law fairly, and thoughtfully, and in a principled and disciplined manner to answer the legal questions presented by the parties in a case. I approach each case with an open mind, and my decisions are based on the law and the facts, not on ideology or partisan politics. I am faithful to the court’s role as an independent check and balance on the other political branches of government. My duty is to uphold the Constitution, a sacred document that represents the will of the people and which contains the fundamental principles that define our democracy, protect individual rights and promote a more equal society."
She made a similar statement in a candidate questionnaire.
As Bradley’s campaign noted to us, Kloppenburg has also said -- more than once -- that among U.S. Supreme Court justices, she aligns most with Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in part because they believe in "protecting individual rights and promoting a more equal society."
So, Kloppenburg’s statement is more broad than Bradley suggests, in that she states her job as a judge is to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
But Kloppenburg also states that in her judicial philosophy, the key principles of the Constitution are protecting individual rights and promoting a more equal society. That echoes the claim made by Bradley.
Bradley says "JoAnne Kloppenburg has told us she thinks it's her job to promote a more equal society."
Kloppenburg does say that, but she also says more.
Kloppenburg declares that her judicial philosophy is to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and that in her view, the fundamental principles of the Constitution are to "protect individual rights and promote a more equal society."
Bradley’s statement is accurate but needs additional information -- our definition of Mostly True.
Wisconsin Public Radio, "Joy Cardin Show" interview (14:30) of Rebecca Bradley, March 21, 2016
JoAnne Kloppenburg campaign website, "Judicial Philosophy," accessed March 27, 2016
Email, JoAnne Kloppenburg campaign manager Melissa Mulliken, March 27, 2016
Email, Rebecca Bradley campaign spokesman Nathan Conrad, March 28, 2016
The Capital Times, "Bradley, Kloppenburg debate judicial philsophy at Milwaukee Bar Association," March 9, 2016
Grassroots North Shore, JoAnne Kloppenburg statement, accessed March 27, 2016
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