Politics & Policy

Bench Brawl in Wisconsin

The Left long ago stopped pretending that court proceedings were anything other than exercises in raw-power politics, and so they’ve taken their fight against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker to the state supreme court — not in the form of a lawsuit, but in the form of a multimillion-dollar intervention into an election to a ten-year term on the court.

Wisconsin supreme court justice David Prosser went to bed one night a respected former prosecutor, and woke up the next morning the target of a $3 million union-run smear campaign, falsely accused of being an enabler of pedophiles. That is what you get when you oppose the political machine that has been fleecing taxpayers in Wisconsin and elsewhere for a generation. Or, as in the case of Justice Prosser, when they suspect you might merely stand in their way and do your job.

#ad#Let’s take that specific outrageous claim first. When Prosser was a district attorney, a Catholic priest was accused of improperly touching two boys in their home — running his hand across their chests, but nothing more. Creepy, yes, but probably not prosecutable. With no more evidence than that to go on, with one witness refusing to testify, and with the family not  keen on sending its young children to the witness stand in a case in which it would be practically impossible to prove a serious crime had been committed, Prosser, with the family’s agreement, declined to file charges. He reported the incident to the diocese and asked that the priest be removed. Long after Prosser was out of office — 14 years, in fact — further accusations against the priest came to light: accusations of which the prosecutor had known, and could have known, nothing. For this, the union-backed Greater Wisconsin Committee accuses him of conspiring to protect pedophiles from justice. That is a shameful libel — even Politifact, generally hostile to Republicans, gave the claim a low rating on its Truth-O-Meter.

Even the boys in the case denounced the ad as the exploitative fraud it is, and one averred that he’d vote for Prosser. But what is the suffering of exploited children when there are union dues on the line?

When you’ve lost the election, lost the vote in the legislature, and don’t have the law on your side, lies, invective, and blunt force — the Left’s main weapons in Wisconsin — are what you have left. Expect to see a lot more of them deployed.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee is preparing to throw $3 million into the judicial election to defeat Prosser — not because it is feared that he will fail to administer the law impartially, but because it is feared that he will. To that end, Wisconsin Democrats are working to install one of their own on the court and, if the GWC ad is any indicator, they are prepared to do just about anything to win. Because of legal restrictions, Prosser cannot solicit contributions to aid his campaign under this onslaught. But you can help his campaign by helping the Wisconsin Club for Growth (donate here) or donating to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (donate online here; fax donation form here).

It is important that conservatives nationwide make this campaign their own. What is at stake in Wisconsin is not just one piece of legislation or one bill restoring a measure of sanity to the state budgeting process. The question to be answered in Wisconsin is: Who works for whom? Do the public employees work for the citizens, or are the citizens mere cattle to be disposed of at the pleasure of the bureaucrats and their union bosses? Every arrow in the quiver — court cases, judicial elections, recall, lawsuits, lies, libels, and brute thuggery — will be thrown at this case, along with lots of money derived from the union dues that state and local governments helpfully deduct from their employees’ paychecks on the unions’ behalf. Wisconsin may seem an unlikely battleground, but a line must be drawn, and this is the place to draw it.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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