The dangers of prematurely declaring victory – as illustrated in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election

The hotly contested Wisconsin Supreme Court elections – pitting incumbent and self-described “judicial conservative” David Prosser against union-backed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg – put Wisconsin back into the political spotlight as “Ground Zero” in the ongoing fight to control an increasingly powerful and unchecked one-third of state governments.

At stake in Wisconsin  was (and remains) more than the single state supreme court seat up for a vote.  The election was not only “seen as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to curb union power in Wisconsin” – hence the massive infusion of union resources (people, advocacy efforts, and money – reportedly some $5 million) supporting Kloppenburg – but also a clear and blatant example of the “progressive” Left’s attempts to advance policy by taking over state courts.

The dramatic ups and downs of the vote counts – from Kloppenburg’s next-day declaration of victory (based on a reported 204 vote lead) to the following day’s discovery of a large number of unreported votes swinging the lead the other way (to a nearly 7,500 vote lead for Prosser) added to the emotional impact (on both sides), but the typical horse-race coverage of the vote largely obscured the larger issues at stake, in Wisconsin and beyond.

It has long been an open secret that the “progressive” movement – unable to persuade the public with the substance of their arguments – has exploited the courts to advance their agenda.  Nowhere has this been laid bare more clearly than the recent Wisconsin state supreme court race – as the losers in the recent state legislative battles openly expressed hopes that “a Kloppenburg victory would set the stage for the high court to strike it down.”

As another article (Prosser vs. Kloppenburg: Wisconsin Supreme Court battle royale) indicates, the organized Left is very much aware of what’s at stake: the importance of judicial elections in Wisconsin, and in other states, in securing the legal high ground:

And unions are excited.  In fact, a letter sent out by the American Federation of Teachers states that: “a Kloppenburg victory will swing the balance to our side.  A vote for Prosser is a vote for Walker.  It’s time to ‘get even.’”

Colorado blogger Rossputin summed it up nicely in his contemporaneous coverage of the Wisconsin supreme court elections (“Wisconsin State Supreme Court Election Update“):

What does it say about the role of the judiciary in America today that the left will work so hard to elect a judge?  Do they believe that once elected the judge will be so beholden to them that she’ll make political rather than law-based decisions?  And is there any good reason, given what we’ve seen in recent years including at the federal Supreme Court, to believe they’re wrong to assume that?  We no longer live under the rule of law, or at least we’re quickly moving in that direction.

So while it’s possibly emotionally satisfying (and even correct) to ridicule Kloppenburg for prematurely declaring victory with an unconfirmed 204 vote lead (which subsequent vote counts showed was ephemeral, at best),  it’s equally correct to criticize many conservatives for prematurely declaring victory in the overall battle for control of our courts.

Just because Prosser appears to have won in Wisconsin, the war is far from over; in fact, Prosser’s win in Wisconsin is one of the very few “victories” in the war for the courts over the last several years (with the exception of Iowa last year, the “progressives” have won in a litany of states, from Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kansas – and yes, Colorado too – in recent years).

The ongoing “progressive” takeover of the courts is the greatest single threat to individual liberty and our system of government that exists today.

The battle lines are clear; and the fight is unrelenting.  Those who would use the courts to advance a partisan political agenda – instead of insisting that the courts maintain their proper role of defending the Constitution and the rule of law – are ruthless, well-organized, well-funded, and pervasive.  Although it is an uphill battle – they must be stopped.

Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado (and, working with allied groups, nationwide) judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts.  We will continue to work with legislators and others interested in reforming the systemic shortcomings of Colorado’s “merit selection & retention” system to increase transparency and accountability to the public, and to provide useful evaluations of judicial performance.

However, we can’t do it alone –  we need your continued support; via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions.  Freedom isn’t free –nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.

Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.

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