When the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided to accept the first of two cases regarding the gerrymandered districting maps, Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote the dissenting opinion. It would be an understatement to say that her opinion lacked in professionalism, much less maturity. Her opinion read, in part:
REBECCA GRASSL BRADLEY, J. (dissenting). The outcome of this original action has been predetermined. Nevertheless, the majority forces the parties to expend considerable resources—including taxpayer money—to respond to a petition everyone knows will be granted by Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet, Jill Karofsky, and Janet Protasiewicz. Despite receiving nearly $10 million from the Democrat Party of Wisconsin1 and declaring the maps “rigged,”2 Protasiewicz has not recused herself from the case. These four justices will adopt new maps to shift power away from Republicans and bestow an electoral advantage for Democrat candidates, fulfilling one of Protasiewicz’s many promises to the principal funder of her campaign.
To understand just how breathtakingly hypocritical this is, we need to look at how Bradley even got to be a Justice in the first place.
In 2012, then Governor Scott Walker appointed Bradley to Circuit Court Branch #45. Before this appointment, she just so happened to coincidentally and in no way connected (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) happened to be President of the Milwaukee Federalist Society and had just so happened to have donated numerous times to Walker’s campaign. Remember, this was just a coincidence and had no connection whatsoever.
And it just so happened that the timing of Walker appointing Bradley to this bench just so happened to coincidentally be just a few months before the seat was up for election. So, almost overnight, Bradley went from a no name lawyer to being the incumbent running for the seat she was currently in. Oh, and her opponent in that race was – wait for it – Janet Protasiewicz!
While she was running on being a non-partial and nonpartisan judge, she did her fundraising at the very partial and very partisan Republican Party fundraisers:
Bradley won that election and then in 2015, Walker appointed Bradley to appellate court. Five months later, Walker moved her up again and appointed Bradley to the Supreme Court.
That’s a pretty damn amazing career projectory – going from a lawyer to a Supreme Court Justice in just three years and with no experience whatsoever, amirite?
But Bradley’s hypocrisy isn’t the only problem with her fauxtrage. In 2010, the conservatives on the court pretty much did away with recusal laws:
The following year, in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its controversial Citizens United v. F.E.C. decision, which effectively opened the way for corporations and other outside groups to make unlimited expenditures on behalf of candidates, including judges. Despite this, and shortly thereafter, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 to adopt, verbatim, a recusal rule written by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association, which said that justices could choose whether to recuse themselves from a case but that receiving a campaign contribution of any size from one or more of the parties need not disqualify them from adjudicating the case. This was essentially, no recusal standard at all.
In 2017, Bradley, Annette Ziegler and their cohorts in corruption reinforced the no recusal policy:
At the time, a 5-2 conservative majority controlled the court. Bradley joined her right-wing colleagues, which included current Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, to kill the proposed recusal rule.
The petition “asks us to infringe the First Amendment rights of the people of Wisconsin who wish to participate in judicial elections, either through supporting a candidate directly or speaking out on issues in a judicial race,” Bradley wrote in her opinion. “The people of Wisconsin, like everybody else in this country, have a First Amendment right to do that. They have a First Amendment right to speak out in favor of the judges they support, and in opposition to the judges they oppose, without being penalized for exercising their free speech rights. … In my mind, this petition is somewhat shocking in its disregard for the Wisconsin Constitution and the United States Constitution, particularly the First Amendment.”
So when it’s Bradley getting the campaign donations, it’s her constitutional duty to preserve people’s right to provide her with grift. But when somone on the left does it, there’s hell to pay. Got it?
Lastly, just to show the levels of her poor judgment, it should be noted that Bradley thought there would no conflict of interest in representing the COO of her law firm, regarding a family court issue of child placement, even though she had no experience in that field. Oh, did I mention that she was also have an extramarital affair with said COO?
If Bradley really feels that Protasiewicz needs to recuse herself, she should lead the way herself.