Last week, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of the state Supreme Court released a memo that purported to divulge more details about the Court’s alleged dysfunctionality. Bradley, part of the court’s liberal minority, has a long running feud with Justice David Prosser, a conservative who was re-elected to his seat in the spring of 2011. This spring another conservative leaning justice, Patience Roggensack, is running for re-election. The two liberal candidates challenging Roggensack have argued that they would help eliminate the Court’s bad image and dysfunction.
In her memo, Bradley said that she and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, another liberal, requested additional security in early 2011 to protect themselves from Justice Prosser. Prosser, after he was re-elected, was accused by Bradley of trying to choke her during a vigorous debate between the court’s conservative and liberal members. A thorough law enforcement investigation concluded that Prosser was not guilty of the accusations thrown at him by Bradley.
While the media quickly reported Bradley’s newly released claim that she sought police protection from Prosser, the claim lacked any evidence to back it up. When former Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs hinted that Bradley might have been right even though there was not a shred of evidence to back up her claim, Collin Roth of RightWisconsin.com quickly found information debunking Tubbs‘ claims.
Justice Bradley has not explained why she waited until now, after months of silence on the issue, to release her memo. However, the response of Ed Fallone, the leading liberal candidate aiming to knock off Justice Roggensack in the April Supreme Court election, may provide insight into Bradley’s motives.
In a press release sent out Monday, Fallone offered the following statement:
“This weekend’s revelations by former Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs confirm that heightened security measures were taken to protect court members from workplace threats as far back as March 2011.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Justice Roggensack is in denial that the Court is dysfunctional, continuing to say that “everything is fine.” If Justice Roggensack is unwilling to admit the truth and hold fellow justices accountable for their actions, then it’s time to elect a Supreme Court Justice who will.”
What does a spat between Justice Bradley and Justice Prosser, neither of whom are running for re-election this spring, have to do with Justice Roggensack?
Bradley once enjoyed power as part of the court’s ruling liberal majority a few years ago. When liberals lost control of the court they also lost their ability to turn the court into a tool of legislative and political power. Before the conservatives ascended to the majority, court liberals, led by Chief Justice Abrahamson, made decisions that earned them the mock and ridicule of legal experts around the country.
Bradley, by strategically fabricating and releasing misleading memos, is trying to give political ammunition to the liberal candidates running to unseat Justice Roggensack. Bradley has consistently portrayed herself as the innocent victime of the court, but her deft political maneuvering to unceremoniously assist the political prospects of a liberal Supreme Court candidate may reveal a true motive to her political theater.