Bench Memos

Dueling Ads in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Earlier in the race, the Greater Wisconsin Committee — a front group for unions and trial lawyers — released a television ad accusing Justice Prosser of shielding a pedophile when he was a prosecutor back in the ’70s.

The ad was so misleading that almost immediately after it hit the air the victim in the underlying case issued a statement calling the ad “offensive, inaccurate and out of context” and demanded that it be pulled. As NR’s editors noted, “even Politifact, generally hostile to Republicans, gave the claim a low rating on its Truth-O-Meter.”

Prosser confronted his opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg, with the victim’s letter and challenged her to call for the ad to be taken down. She barely blinked. “Like it or not, third parties have a first amendment right to run ads of their own choosing,” she said. True enough. But political candidates have a first amendment right to condemn false advertising of the ugliest possible kind.

The victim, Troy Merryfield, is now appearing in an ad of his own, again accusing Kloppenburg’s allies of lying and demanding that the ad be taken down. Unfortunately, I think Kloppenburg is so desperate to be a judge that she will probably continue standing up for the lies.

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