Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates Play Up Their Strengths
On April 7, Wisconsin voters will elect a member of the state Supreme Court. The race pits Incumbent Justice Ann Walsh Bradley against Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley. We spoke with both judicial hopefuls about what they would bring to the court.
Bradley has been a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for 20 years. She says she’s seeking another 10-year term because she cares deeply about the people of Wisconsin. Bradley calls herself an unbiased judge.
“I’ve had cases involving upholding individual rights, making sure government is open and accessible and holding government accountable. I believe in the importance of not only a fair and impartial judiciary, but one that is non-partisan, one that is not beholden to any special interest groups and one where people know when they come to court they can get a fair shake,” Bradley says.
Bradley has taken heat for contributing to dysfunction on the court. A few years ago, she accused Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold during an emotional debate in an office. Bradley says the justices have taken steps to build collegiality.
“All seven of us know there’s need and have really been striving for improvement in that area. We’ve had some tough times,” Bradley says.
Bradley criticizes her rival, for accepting donations from the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
“My opponent is having a political party pay for part of his campaign and he is campaigning at political party events. That’s a very stark difference between myself and my opponent,” Bradley says.
Judge James Daley defends his campaign style. He acknowledges the Republican Party of Wisconsin conducted $7,000 worth of research for his campaign. But, he doesn’t think the contribution poses a problem.
“It’s a legal donation permitted by the law. No more than the appearance that my opponent’s campaign manager worked for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin,” Daley says.
Daley contends that the incumbent’s list of donors is rife with people who lean liberal. Daley also calls his opponent an “activist judge” and finds her votes to strike down a couple hot button political issues troubling. Those include Voter ID and Act 10, Gov. Walker’s bill that dismantled most public unions in Wisconsin.
“An activist, they believe their personal beliefs or their person political goals can be used and should be used to correct the mistakes of the other branches of government,” Daley says.
Daley says he has been a consensus-builder. He mentions his work in creating a Criminal Justice Advisory Committee in Rock County. It pushes for innovation in the criminal justice system to improve the community’s quality of life.
“We brought in all different ethnic backgrounds, leaders in our communities. We were able to focus on safe streets and safe neighborhoods and also the need to provide services to people convicted of crime, so they have the tools and they don’t have to do that again,” Daley says.
As for his experience on the bench, Daley has been a circuit court judge in Rock County since 1989.