April 4, 2008

Wisconsin citizens seem to have demonstrated their liking for conservative state supreme court justices.

Does this mean somone can defeat Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson when she runs for a 4th term next year?
No one has announced plans to run against Abrahamson yet, but the election is a year away. Jim Pugh, a spokesman for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, said conservative judges — Diane Sykes, Patience Roggensack, Annette Ziegler and now Michael Gableman — have won each of the past four contested elections.

Gableman was elected Tuesday, beating incumbent Justice Louis Butler, the first time a sitting Supreme Court justice has been ousted in 41 years.
But who dares to challenge the monumental Shirley Abrahamson? Now that an incumbent has lost, perhaps someone with far more weight than Gableman will step up. People around Madison are stunned — stunned enough that I can see it from Brooklyn — at Butler's loss to someone who was quite obscure:
... Gableman wasn't well known before he decided to challenge Butler in this year 's race. Hailing from a one-judge county in far northwestern Wisconsin, Gableman announced his candidacy less than six months ago and defeated Butler, of Milwaukee, by 51 percent to 49 percent
So who will take on Shirley Abrahamson? I'm not calling for her defeat, please note. I am only saying that, given the Wisconsin voters' taste for conservative judges, we deserve top-quality conservative candidates.

ADDED: Here's a map showing the voting pattern in the Butler-Gableman election:



I think this says a lot about Wisconsin. My Wisconsin is that dark blue square down at the bottom.

64 comments:

MadisonMan said...

It could be an interesting race. I suspect WMC will start with ads showing Ms. Abrahamson as soft on crime, or something. She's also even older than John McCain -- but I don't know if she looks older than him, so that's an angle too.

I think the opponent, if there is one, should come from somewhere near Milwaukee -- shouldn't there be a Cream Cityesque viewpoint on the court?

Eric said...

I was wondering how you'd handle this election, but based on the post's snarkiness (intended I'm sure, but if it's not, you've put it in a way as to not offend your overwhelmingly conservative posters), I can see you'll sit this one out also.

Sitting it out is akin to advocating her defeat. You've not sat out presidential elections, so why this (or the Butler/Gableman race)? I was quite surprised that a constitutional law professor was comfortable with a candidate for a state supreme court spot calling the Sixth Amendment a "loophole." I don't know many scholars, conservative or liberal, that consider provisions of the constitution loopholes.

The WMC will use her record, but I think they'll have a hard time using her age madisonman. She may be 74, but I guarantee that she works harder than any other state employee. Anyone that is familiar with her work habits knows that to be the case.

If voters did not return her to the Court, it would be the clearest signal that quality simply does not matter, only ideology. There's not a single possible candidate in the state that can match up with her if the race is about her value to the state and/or court. But if voters want to make the supreme court partial and partisan, then they'll seat a nobody.

Middle Class Guy said...

Eric said...
But if voters want to make the supreme court partial and partisan, then they'll seat a nobody.

That is exactly the point. It is up to the voters; like it or not, fair or not. They decide who they want to represent them on the court. The voters decide on who the quality candidate is. Justice Abrahamson is not entitled to her position, no matter how long she has been on the bench, no matter how hard she works, and no matter how fair or partisan she is. She must prove her worth again to the voters. If the trend is for Conservative justices, than she must fight for her job and buck the trend or lose graciously and be proud of her accomplishments. That is politics 101. It is life.

Simon said...

"[P]erhaps someone with far more weight than Gableman will step up"

Chloe Marshall? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

James Wigderson said...

Well, Ann, I guess you've been told by Eric just how it is. If you're not with the Leftys, you're against them. Being an interested but neutral observer is now a hostile act, the ideological Schrödinger's cat.

Such an obsessive ideological mindset must be terribly depressing and lonely, don'cha think?

Richard Dolan said...

Never having been to Wisc, knowing nothing about its S Ct, and never having heard of Justice Abrahamson before, I don't have much to suggest in terms of a replacement. But this aspect of Ann's post caught my eye: "I am only saying that, given the Wisconsin voters taste for conservative judges, we deserve top-quality conservative candidates."

What is the measure of "top quality" here? The least common denominator is skill at the lawyerly craft -- an ability to analyze legal issues and write clearly and, with any luck, concisely, about them. But is it anything more than that? Some of the griping about Gableman (never heard of him either) related to his position as a little known, one-man circuit court in a far away corner of the state. Perhaps that suggests that some element of seasoning, of being a known quantity, is part of the "top quality" analysis. Some might claim that an ability to sell the particular point of view (conservative or liberal) is part of the "quality" equation, giving a nod to the more political aspect of the judicial role.

While a "conservative candidate" would approach some legal questions differently from a "liberal candidate," is there some measure of "quality" that would differentiate between conservative candidates and liberal candidate for a supreme court judgeship?

I don't think so.

Eric said...

middle class guy: I'm not suggesting she's entitled to her position, I'm saying that if all that matters is being conservative, then voters don't care about the qualifications that should matter. I don't view ideology as a qualification for an appellate judgeship. Interpretative approach may matter, but that's not the same thing as conservative vs. liberal.

James Wigderson said...

Actually, Butler had the nickname "Loophole Louis" long before this race, and it was a matter of pride with him.

Middle Class Guy said...

Eric,
When politics are involved in electing judges quality goes out the window. Are they good politicians first is the rule.

Believe me, I know where of I speak. In Illinois they elect some real bone heads as judges and appoint idiots to fill vacancies. Most of these poltroons are judges because they could not hack it as attorneys.

There has to be a better system, but until someone comes up with one, we are stuck.

Simon said...

Eric said...
"I'm saying that if all that matters is being conservative, then voters don't care about the qualifications that should matter."

Where are you getting that "all that matters" is one thing or another? Particularly since the thrust of Ann's post is precisely that if conservatives are going to seek to toppple Chief Justice Abrahamson, they should put up "top-quality" candidates, which quite obviously assumes "qualified" as a baseline.

"I don't view ideology as a qualification for an appellate judgeship. Interpretative approach may matter, but that's not the same thing as conservative vs. liberal."

You're assuming that when people say "conservative judges" they mean "judges who reach conservative results." Inexact though it may be, "conservative" and "liberal" are often used to describe the interpretative approach that you concede matters; by "conservative" judges, it seems to me that what is meant isn't hang-em-high law and order types who arrive with a specific ideological agenda, but rather, judges who believe in the traditional role of the judiciary, who are process-oriented, who are interpretivists rather than instrumentalists, and so forth. It seems to me that it's valid, albeit misleading, to describe Hugo Black, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and John Roberts as "conservative judges" even though Black was politically a liberal, and the latter three are each quite different kinds of conservative. Equally, I think it's valid, albeit misleading, to describe William O. Douglas, Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer as "liberal judges" even though O'Connor was politically a conservative and Breyer is far more moderate a liberal than was Douglas. Your problem here's a failure of imagination: you assume that everyone is using ambiguous terms with the same meaning that you use them.

Seven Machos said...

She may be 74, but I guarantee that she works harder than any other state employee.

I know nothing of this judge or Wisconsin politics or judicial matters. However, I wager everything I own that a 74-year-old judge does not work harder than every other state employee. Take her clerk(s), just for example, or the person who delivers her mail.

Also, this is second YOU! A LAW PROFESSOR post I have seen here today. It's good to see that nothing changes at Althouse.

MadisonMan said...

Butler had the nickname "Loophole Louis" long before this race, and it was a matter of pride with him.

I suspect that if Gableman or any of his supporters were looking for a defense attorney, Butler is exactly the kind of lawyer they would look for.

sean said...

Gee, according to the ABA Richard Posner was not well-qualified to be a judge--that couldn't possibly have anything to do with ideology, could it?--so it may be very hard for conservatives to come up with anyone who is top-quality.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"I suspect that if Gableman or any of his supporters were looking for a defense attorney, Butler is exactly the kind of lawyer they would look for."

Well, sure. But that goes to precisely the reason I think a common criticism of some state judges - such as that advanced by MCG above that many of Illinois' judges were appointed "because they could not hack it as attorneys" and had friends in the right places - is misplaced. I've touched on this before:

"judges and attorneys have different skillsets. A good attorney is adept at figuring out a persuasive argument for a given result; that is, they're given a position and work backwards from there to find enough law to justify that result. That's the complete opposite of what a judge who's doing it right is trying to do. A good judge (to describe it at a very, very, very high level of abstraction) does the exact opposite: she starts from the legal materials, determines the range of possible outcomes demanded by available authority, and within that range determines either what is the most reasonable result consistent with existing precedent or the result that falls on the line of trajectory of existing precedent. Being good at the former isn't necessarily an indicator that you're good at the latter, and a long period as the former might actually develop habits of mind, ways of thinking about and approaching law, that are very hard to break yet must be broken to be a good judge."

There's no more contradiction in saying you'd want Butler to defend you but wouldn't want him sitting on the bench than there is in saying that you don't want your surgeon to do your wife's annual. Judges and Lawyers both work in law, just as surgeons and OB/GYNs both work in medicine, but that doesn't mean that they have the same job or that someone adept in one role in their field is necessarily going to be adept in another.

Kirk Parker said...

MM,

The question of who I'd want if I needed a defense attorney is pretty much irrelevant. I've met plenty of prosecutors who would terrify my as judges, too.

Daryl said...

If this is a non-partisan race, does that mean there is no primary and no run-off?

If so, then Ms. Abrahamson faces not one conservative titan, but five or six conservative midgets, none of whom will net more than 15% of the vote.

There will be extreme libertarians, extreme religious fanatics, and moderates of all stripes in between, each vying for the position and each refusing to yield.

Simon said...

Sean, I think it's a stretch to call Posner a "conservative" - he strikes me as having a fairly liberal judicial methodology tempered by his economic approach, and a generally libertarian political cast tempered with pragmatism. I'd by no means consider him a conservative, judicially, politically, or anything else.

MadisonMan said...

Off topic, slightly: So close to 13 million!

Kirk, (and simon): There are some attributes to a hard-working attorney that would translate very well to being a judge. Knowing the law inside and out, for example - which I assume someone with the nickname Loophole would know -- or just being hard-working.

Alan Jay Weisbard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SteveR said...

MM: Odds are with a post anywhere close to sexual, Titus will get the magic 13 millionth, checking in to update us on his latest exploits.

John K. said...

Eric said: "I don't view ideology as a qualification for an appellate judgeship."

I, on the other hand, view ideology as the most important qualification for an appellate judgeship. Oh how oh how will we resolve our fundamental philosophical differences?

Alan Jay Weisbard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John K. said...

That is, I would prefer a bone-headed "nonentity" from the sticks who writes one-page opinions but who at least understands and spiritually embraces the Declaration of Independence and has the ability to spell "Ninth Amendment" over and over again.

Middle Class Guy said...

Simon,
Believe me, some of the judges in Cook County are only in it because they were poor attorneys and could not make a living. I have been before them as judges or watched some of them practice before they were "elevated to the bench". In Chicago and Cook County it is not about quality. It is about who you know.

As an example, a personal friend of mine was a struggling lawyer for a long time. He finally hooked up politically and became a judge. Now, he is my friend, but, he is the last guy anyone would want on either side of the bench.

John K. said...

Hi Prof. Weisbard:

I'm the guy who wrote that Wisconsin Law Review article demonstrating the viability of medical practice lawsuits against abortion providers who fail to warn women considering abortion about the evidence linking induced abortion with increased breast cancer risk, the hope being that by demonstrating the plausibility of retrospective claims for damages it would at least be absolutely clear that the law should at least do something prospectively to ensure that women are informed. I did seek your advice because of your professed expertise in informed consent law and medical ethics and your connection to the medical school, but you just didn't seem very interested in my project, and said you were very busy. That's fine, but ten years later that same gross injustice continues unabated, with serious consequences to the health and dignity of all the women who remain kept in the dark as a result of the apathy and discomfort of those in a position to do something. It's so far been successfully ignored and swept under the rug. As a partial result of realizations based on this course of events, I've become quite cynical and skeptical of the real "quality" of the "entities" filling our law schools, our courts, and our legislatures.

SteveR said...

Alan, how is it not possible to for the "typical 30 second attack ads (to) provide an ideal setting for fully and fairly presenting all of this in a careful and comprehensive fashion" when you, yourself, have done so in a mere two comments (no irony)?

It also possible that voters would rather take their chances with the risk of injury based on "unsafe business practices" than the certainty of paying everyday, in everyway, for the lifestyle of trial lawyers. Just a possibility, although I expect you believe the voters, not agreeing with you, are simply idiots..

Daryl said...

So John K., how are those lawsuits coming?

They are "viable," right? (Pun intended, or are you as oblivious as you are stupid?)

You want us to believe, when it comes to abortion, you have strong feelings about boobies but not babies? I don't buy it.

The "Abortion-Breast Cancer" link is just an indirect attack on individual liberty, based on bad science. It's similar to the liberals' false statistics about gun possession being bad for you. It sounds like Prof. Weisbard was very polite. More than you deserved.

Simon said...

Alan Jay Weisbard said...
"Pretty much all judicial candidates (short of a Robert Bork, and there haven't been many who haven't learned from his experience) read from the same script when describing their judicial philosophies and approaches to interpretation."

That's true, but as Bork himself has pointed out, he had to talk about that stuff, because he'd written about them. It would have been risible for him to use the "I can't talk about that" defense. It's not just that candidates and their handlers have learned to talk in platitudes, it's that Presidents and their handlers have learned to nominate candidates whose written commitments are thin enough that they can get away with so doing.

"[I]t is quite easy to mischaracterize particular decisions by being 'highly selective' in contextualizing facts, legal questions presented, consequences, and how the decision fits in with pre-exiting precedent."

Well, sure, but that's not limited to elections. The academy indulges from time to time. I've read many op/eds - and even articles - by learned professors that attack particular decisions on grounds that are specious at best and fictitious at worst. Judges do it, too. Judge Noonan has a book attacking the court's sovereign immunity jurisprudence, and to this day I've still yet to understand what exactly his criticism is beyond the fact that doctrine is complex sometimes. Whodathunkit! Doctrinal complexity! In the field of jurisdiction! That wasn't even the best one I can give you in that field, I've seen at least one op/ed by a lawprof who argued that those decisions were hypocritical on the part of the majority because they failed to strictly construe the 11th Amendment. Which members of the majority ever described themselves as strict constructionists? Perhaps Rehnquist did at some time, but Thomas, Kennedy and O'Connor? Never. Scalia? Actively campaigns against the term.

Simon said...

Middle Class Guy, my point is only that we shouldn't be troubled that a judge was a bad attorney. There's no reason to think a good attorney will be a good judge, or that a bad attorney can't be a good judge. The issue's always whether they are a good judge, not whether they would be good at some other job.

Roger said...

I agree with Simon; all too often our reactions about attorneys are based on the cases they take. As attorney's their job is to advocate for their client which is not the job of a judge (as nearly as I can tell :) )

Kansas City said...

It should be obvious that generally speaking a good attorney is more likely to be a good judge than a bad attorney. To truly be a good attorney, you need an ability to analyze and apply the law, which of course is what a a judge does.

Until these comments by Althouse, I had never thought the popular election could possibly be a better way to select judges. The real problem is that governors and presidents are picking their judges based on politics, so the system is broke, probably irretrievably. So at least popular elections give the people the chance to decide. If the two systems are roughly equally flawed, you might as well let the people decide.

MadisonMan said...

The obvious solution to judge-enacted laws is for the legislature to take over and do their job. That's a problem in WI because the legislature here prefers to sit on their collective rear ends and collect per diems and do little else.

Simon said...

Kansas City said...
"It should be obvious that generally speaking a good attorney is more likely to be a good judge than a bad attorney."

That's not obvious at all. It depends why you're a bad attorney. If you're a bad trial attorney because you're not that good at emoting to the jury, or a bad appellate attorney because you find oral argument tough going. Or, for that matter, you might not even be a bad attorney, just an unsuccessful one - maybe because you're bad, but maybe just because you aren't good at self-promotion and therefore getting clients. There are many reasons why one might be a dreadful attorney that are not remotely disabling on being a judge.

John K. said...

Daryl, Daryl and Daryl:

In the course of writing my law review article I consulted with a (female) high-powered plaintiffs'-side toxic tort litigator in Chicago from a major firm. She was convinced the cause of action outlined in the article was viable. Same with a prominent plaintiffs' med mal attorney in Chicago, who said he'd be more than willing to prosecute such a claim. (In fact, a med mal DEFENSE attorney at the firm I worked for in Chicago during the summer in law school said he'd be willing to bring a claim with the right plaintiff.) For a time I worked with the most prominent med mal plaintiffs' firm in D.C., and the primary reason for me being there was one of the partner's interest in bringing such lawsuits. Of course, when most people who've been harmed don't realize they've been harmed the opportunity for bring suits on their behalf is much diminished. Two cases based largely on the abortion-breast cancer link have been successfully settled, one in Philadelphia and the other in Portland, Oregon.

My own effort to put this right on the legal map was blown out of the water in North Dakota. So feel free to gloat over that. But you might want to check out the briefs from both sides in the case, with extensive references to the expert testimony elicited and trial, and the court's opinion before you assume anything about the merits of the case, available here:

http://www.court.state.nd.us/court/calendar/20030023.htm

My personal opinions about abortion have no relevance to the merits of the arguments or the actual weight of the scientific evidence, and indeed your ad hominem insinuations have traditionally been the most common made against the abortion-breast cancer link, for lack of real arguments. In fact, when it comes to the law I'm for the most part pro-choice (based mainly on pragmatic considerations) although I recognize that abortion is a great moral evil.

One note about the court's opinion in Kjolsrud v. MKB Management: the court makes much out of (borrowing from the defendant's brief) the legally irrelevant circumstance that the plaintiff did not physically see and hold in her hands the commercial brochures that were the subject of the suit (the case was brought pursuant to a statute that gave standing to literally "any person" to bring suit on behalf of the general public for an injunction against false advertising), even though the plaintiff was well aware of exactly what the relevant paragraph in the brochures said based on multiple conversations she'd had with me prior to bringing the suit. This came about because I was initially contacted by someone in North Dakota who'd come across the brochures and wanted me to represent as the plaintiff a pro-life organization. Upon reflection, though, I didn't want the case to be about pro-life versus pro-choice, and so I proposed to another concerned individual in North Dakota whom I'd met on one of my trips there (and who knew the person who had initially contacted me) that she act as the plaintiff instead. After thinking it over carefully she agreed. This may seem like an odd way of proceeding, but this statute (California has an almost identical statute) clearly contemplated such lawsuits as a means of protecting the public from false advertising.

By the way, in the course of the litigation the defendant offered to settle the suit and pay all of our expenses up to that point. Unfortunately, what they offered to enjoin themselves from was not adequate. Given how the lawsuit turned out, we obviously should have accepted that settlement offer, but the case appeared to be such a slam dunk -- the defendant's statements were so obviously false -- that the plaintiff decided to reject it and seek at trial an injunction that would meaningfully protect women's rights. Unfortunately, we hadn't counted on a wholly unprincipled North Dakota judiciary.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

I wonder what the correlation wold be between each counties per capita income and the shade of red/blue.

I have a pretty good guess which counties are the richest.

rcocean said...

The whole "qualified" meme is just another example of liberal dishonesty. You, see liberals are in favor of "quality" not "ideology".

But conviently, only conservative nominees are ever "unqualified". One remembers that four ABA members thought Bork was "unqualified" - unlike that giant of judicial philosophy David Souter (highly qualified).

Judges are de facto politicians. They should meet minimum competency standards and then be judged on their ideology.

Hazy Dave said...

When candidates for Court claim to be without ideology, it may or may not be true, but it's not hard to spot the ideology of the groups lining up behind them. The complaining and editorializing about the "tragic" results of this race, and the gutter politics that delivered the win to the judge appointed by a Republican governor, rather than the one appointed by the Democratic governor, overlooks the fact that ads attacking Gableman appeared on TV weeks before the "Loophole Louie" ads aired. It's a little late to claim the high road. I thought the anti-Gableman ads (which contained no indication of who produced and paid for them) were more insulting and offensive than the anti-Butler spots that followed. But, you won't hear that perspective on Wisconsin Public Radio or in the state's major daily newspapers.

froggyprager said...

I don't think that this means WI citizens like conservative justices. Turn out was low and this win only represents a small share of the citizens of the state. I personally hope this would be a wake up call for those in WI who don't like conservative justices to actual put some effort into these campaigns to off-set the effort and money from WMC, Right to Life, pro-gun, etc. who work hard to get out their votes. I know many liberal neighbors and friends who did not vote.

Simon said...

Jeff with one 'f' said...
"I wonder what the correlation wold be between each counties per capita income and the shade of red/blue. I have a pretty good guess which counties are the richest."

Here ya go. I'm not sure there's any identifiable correlation.

MadisonMan said...

I'm not sure there's any identifiable correlation.

True. The "problem" in finding a correlation (well, other than the underlying premise): The bluest counties are among the richest and the poorest! In addition, Waukesha and Dane county are fairly wealthy -- but they vote very differently.

Hazy Dave said...

The second bluest county certainly appears to be the poorest. Menominee County is essentially composed of the Menominee Indian reservation, if I remember my elementary school Wisconsin geography correctly.

Seven Machos said...

It sounds to me like this incumbent judge was a lot like Al Gore (or John Kerry): qualified and super good. The challenger was a lot like George W. Bush (or Ronald Reagan): bought and paid for by the special interests.

Is that about right?

I'm sure that no interest groups supported the incumbent judge. I'm sure that judge was super-duper impartial and a great philosopher king. You know, if people don't stop making these boneheaded decisions and if these bad, bad special interests don't stop influencing them to vote boneheadedly, we are going to have to change the system. Justice is too important. What we need is a special committee of academics to pick judges instead of the ugly democratic system, sullied as it is by corrupt influence.

Alan Jay Weisbard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

What's the matter with youse guys! It hard enough being the snooty fellow in the New Yorker cartoons without having to engage the hoi polloi in badinage. Gad zooks.

Seven Machos said...

it is typically very difficult for most voters to inform themselves very effectively in judicial elections

This is the one reasonable criticism of judicial election. Voters can only be expected to know so much and to show up to vote so often. That's why, as someone alluded in another thread, a combination of executive selection with legislative approval plus retention elections might be the best possible system.

However, in this case, we have a sitting judge who got thrown out. That is tantamount to a retention election and, in reality, most judicial elections are retention elections in the sense that there is almost always an incumbent. It's not like the challenger was a bum off the street. It was a judge.

tomb1 said...

Interesting comment about income levels. The only two dark blue counties are the two reservations in the state:
- the Menominee Reservation (the Native American/poorest people in the state) and
- the Madison Reservation (the University and State Government).

Both vote "the party line" but for different reasons.

John K. said...

Prof. Weisbard left me a very gracious private message, which does lead me to regret the impression I might have given of bitterness towards him personally. In fact, when I was writing my student comment I surmised and in fact encountered an apprehension that I might god-forbid name anybody who had assisted me in the little traditional "acknowledgments" blurb on the first page. The female toxic tort litigator in Chicago I mentioned above asked me not to do so. Most absurdly, an untenured law professor at UW whom I went to church with and whom I know was not philosophically opposed to the article asked me not to do so after we had a very brief conversation about it. It was absurd because this professor was in a totally unrelated field and therefore it wouldn't have entered my head to publicly "thank" him.

Believe it or not, I was sensitive to this surmised or perceived hesitancy and did not want to put my professors out. I'm not as much of a jerk as I may come across in print. As I recall the brief conversation with Prof. Weisbard, I happened to be in another law professor's office when he happened to come to the door, and the subject of the article I was working on came up. I mentioned awareness of his academic work on informed consent and that the editor-in-chief of the law review had said he was very helpful to him with his own just-published law review comment on informed consent. That's when the Prof. (pre-emptively it seemed to me) mentioned his very busy workload. But I don't recall the conversation very well, and it's possible that Prof. Weisbard even affirmatively expressed then a willingness to talk to me about my work on the article within his time constraints, in which case my characterization above would be rather unfair.

I do obviously have some bitterness about the legal system in general, which includes the law school system. I suppose his reference to "ethically-challenged nonentities" rubbed me the wrong way and led to perhaps an exaggerated response. I harbor no personal bitterness towards Prof. Weisbard.

I'm no longer on the "abortion-breast cancer" crusade, so have in a way become as guilty of the "apathy" I used to lament in others. If no one else cares about gross and pervasive injustice then neither do I, especially after investing so much of myself and my career in trying to correct that egregious corner of it. The justice system and the political system are not the places to look or hope for justice.

MadisonMan said...

being the snooty fellow in the New Yorker cartoons without having to engage the hoi polloi in badinage.

'The' is a pleonasm when writing hoi polloi.

I had to be pedantic because you mentioned The New Yorker.

matthew said...

If this is a non-partisan race, does that mean there is no primary and no run-off?

In Wisconsin there is still a primary - it's just that the top two candidates from the primary then compete in the general election.

And in case anyone was wondering, that other dark blue county (Menominee) is an Indian reservation.

Also, I agree with Ann that the map it says a lot about WI, mainly that it's fairly evenly split within the counties themselves. Hardly anything is a strong red or blue. Good for Wisconsin.

Revenant said...

The primary skill of an attorney is the ability to manipulate the law to your own ends. The primary skill of a judge is the ability to correctly interpret the law. The two things don't necessarily have anything to do with one another -- metaphorically speaking, attorneys are used car salesmen and judges are the folks trying to decide what the best car to buy is.

And MM, while I expect that we'd all be happy to have an attorney like Butler, the average person probably worries a lot more about being victimized BY a criminal than he worries about being put on trial AS a criminal. That's why defense attorneys are disliked.

Trooper York said...

'The' is a pleonasm when writing hoi polloi.

Is a pleonasm the orgasm plebians have when they come in their togas?

Eli Blake said...

I'm not sure that the problem is that Wisconsin citizens have demonstrated anything. For example, Green Bay, a traditionally Republican area is only a light shade of pink on that map. And most of the hinterland is Republican anyway (though the counties along the river and in the southwest seem to be slightly more conservative here than they generally vote.) The clear reason Butler lost is seen in and around Milwaukee. Milwaukee county itself was clearly much more competitive than a liberal candidate can afford for it to be, and in fact (not having numbers in front of me) it is clear that whatever margin Butler got out of Milwaukee was already gone by the time the surrounding counties were tallied up. With Butler being from Milwaukee it seems likely that there may have been some local issues or interests that were working against him, and a Democrat/liberal can't win Wisconsin without an outright and solid win in the southeastern part of the state (metro Milwaukee, going south to Chicago.)

That is just plain an ugly, ugly map for a liberal (and hopefully it won't look like that in November-- if Milwaukee and the surrounding area looks that way then McCain would have a good chance to carry the state.) I suspect it won't though.

Sloanasaurus said...

Theoretically, conservative judges do not have an ideology. All judges should be conservatives, meaning that they should interpret the law as it is written and not make law. If Wisconsin liberal judges have a long record of making law, they should be thrown out.

SteveR said...

Alan,

I know you are gone now, having subjected yourself for long enough dealing with simpletons, but in my way of looking at things calling me not "adequately informed" is calling me an idiot. Maybe it makes you feel smart to phrase it that way, but its really an insulting way to describe people who don't agree with YOU.

AlphaLiberal said...

Uh, that map shows geographic quantities, not population. Acres don't vote.

Ann Althouse is ignoring the WMC role and pushing the WSJ/Club for Growth propaganda. My belated posts on this are in a later thread.

Alan Jay Weisbard said...
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Trooper York said...

Professor, I would like to apologize and say that I am sorry that you would take umbrage with my characterization of you as a cartoon figure. Please be assured of the fact that it is your views and not your person that we at the Althouse blog view as cartoonish. The practice of anonymous comments under a nom de plume has a long and honored history including the work of two of my personal heroes Madison and Hamilton in their advocacy of the Federalist Papers. Please know that we hold the legal profession and especially extremely liberal law professor in the deepest level of minimum high regard. All the best as you depart this vale of tears known as the land of cruel neutrality and return to your chosen vocation of the indoctrination of the most liberal and progressive viewpoints into a new generation of ambulance chasers.

Trooper York said...

If perchance you would like to discuss the current season of American Idol, I am of course at your service sir.

Ann Althouse said...

AlphaLiberal said..."Uh, that map shows geographic quantities, not population. Acres don't vote."

No?! You're kidding! Good thing you showed up to explain that. And have you heard? The sky is blue!

Simon said...

AlphaLiberal said...
"[T]hat map shows geographic quantities, not population. Acres don't vote."

This is one of the arguments that's wheeled out against the electoral college from time to time, and it's never held much persuasive force with me. It seems obvious that people in different areas will have different interests, and the greater the geographic diversity, the more that concern looms. So it comes as no surprise that after the reapportionment decisions forced the elimination of geographic checks on simple majorities, states that are dominated by one or two big cities tend to enact laws geared towards those big cities. If the interests of southern Illinois, for example, are sharply at odds with the interests of Chicago, Chicago wins every time. That's not an illegitimate way to run a government, but I don't think it's a very wise one.

And as to your point about Butler's backers, it has very little relevance, for reasons already given above and elsewhere.

Trooper York said...

Well it looks like professor
Alan Jay Weisbard believes in that great progressive policy of cut and run. Just goes to show you that you can't trust a guy with three names. Aidos Amigo!

Alan Jay Weisbard said...
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Trooper York said...
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Trooper York said...

I would like to say I did admire how you could focus and concentrate and bend all of your efforts to making that coconut telephone when Ginger and Mary Ann just wanted to bang all night. You are that professor I presume?