The Clairvoyance of Rebecca Bradley

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Justice Rebecca Bradley

Justice Rebecca Bradley is one of the candidates for Supreme Court Justice in Tuesday's primary election. Her rather rapid advance through the court system hierarchy has been largely the responsibility of Governer Walker, as she has been appointed by him three times, most recently to the state Supreme Court. Past experience with the governor's atititude toward the courts suggests that he is somewhat less interested in fairness than in getting conservative outcomes.

The upcoming election is partly a referndum on whether her appointment to the Supreme Court was the right decisioin, or if another judge may have been better suited. A recent decision by the State Supreme Court throws some light on whether Bradley will be a fair and impartial judge, or if she will join the current group of conservative judges on the court who generally vote together on any issue.

The recent decision in State of Wisconsin v. Charles V. Matalonis is to my mind a pecululiar decision. In this case the court ruled 4-3 that in this case a warrant was not needed for a house search that resulted in a marijuana bust because the police were working as community caretakers at the time that they searched the house. This seems a big stretch, as it would mean that warrantless searches can occur if the police believe they are working in a community caretaker role rather than investigating a crime. Clearly police serve both roles, but they really should be able to make up their minds which they are doing at any given time. In any case, in this instance it appears that the police were acting beyond their roles as caretakers, which even Justice Prosser saw while writing his own dissent.

Even more disturbing to me, Justice Bradley voted with the majority in this case even though she did not hear the original arguments of the trial. Is this the sort of "interpreting the law rather than inventing it" that she is promising? As Justice Abrahamson argued in her own dissent in this case, this appears to be an unprecedented move on the part of Justice Bradley. Since there's no precedent it is hard to say that this ruling is wrong due to Bradley voting - but it's clearly unseemly, and smacks of joining in with her friends on a ruling even though she didn't participate in the fact-finding. 

Because of this lack of judgment, her shortage of judicial experience, and her past record as a judge, I am going to support Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg in the election on Tuesday, and I suggest that you consider doing the same.