March 22, 2011

At the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates's debate, incumbent David Prosser goes after JoAnne Kloppenburg for what commenters have written on her Facebook page.

What can we attribute to the person with the power to delete comments?
While there was no explicit mention of a Dane County judge's decision to issue an emergency order to block the state's contentious new collective bargaining law, Prosser acknowledged the attacks against him on Klopperburg's Facebook page were from people hoping to elect someone to decide "cases that come out of the governor's budget bill."...

Prosser said Kloppenburg is responsible for the comments on her Facebook page and should take them down. He said the nature of the comments raises questions about whether she can impartially decide any cases that come before her with the budget bill. He mentioned one that read, "Stop the turd, vote Kloppenburg."

"Now am I the turd or is the governor the turd?" he said to laughs from the audience. "Either I am being sort of dissed or she is committing herself to vote in a particular way on a particular case. That's totally inappropriate."

Kloppenburg said the people who post the comments are responsible for the content and that the postings aren't untrue.

"They understand that it is so important to have an independent and impartial court," she said of the people posting on her Facebook site.
I have a very free comments policy myself, and this blog's comments thread is full of things I don't agree with, so I'm strongly disinclined to attribute comments to someone who maintains a comments section. Now, a political candidate might want to clean up the comments, but if she doesn't, what does it mean? It might mean nothing more than a failure to monitor the page — mere inattention or sloppiness. It might mean a commitment to free speech. But one might infer that a candidate would scrub comments that were damaging to her in the election and, perhaps, keep what was helpful.

The key question is whether Kloppenburg has "committ[ed] herself to vote in a particular way on a particular case." Clearly, many of her supporters are saying that she is much more likely than Prosser to give them the outcomes they want, and some of them have said that where she has the power to delete. But Prosser's campaign manager wrote in an official campaign news release that Prosser would "act as a common sense compliment to both the new administration and legislature." Now, that's not exactly a "commit[ment]... to vote in a particular way on a particular case," but it's a signal to people on the conservative side that Prosser to is more likely to give them the outcomes they want. Prosser has "disavowed the release and said he didn't see it before it went out," but what's worse? The Prosser campaign statement or the Kloppenburg Facebook comments?

The answer to that question isn't going to determine who votes for which candidate. Obviously. It's a shame if the judicial campaign has turned into a referendum on the Governor and the GOP legislature, but both candidates bear some responsibility for that. Normally, judicial candidates in this state try quite hard to look as though the race is all about judicial skill and temperament. I think Wisconsinites want that message, and, also, that they are more likely to conflate conservative politics with properly judicial skill and temperament. (That's how Gableman defeated Butler, in my view.)

But at this point in the Wisconsin craziness, some unknown large number of Wisconsinites — especially those who will take the trouble to vote on April 5th — see the election as a way to express an opinion about what the Republicans have been doing in Wisconsin. Presumably, there are some more who have opinions about the extent to which a court should check the legislative process — a more conventional view about judging. I think there are also plenty of Wisconsinites who have a general preference for conservative judges. (They worry that liberal judges will be too sympathetic to criminals and that sort of thing.) Lots of people just vote for the incumbent because they figure he's a solid guy who knows what he's doing.

Who will turn out on April 5th? My sense is that the people who have been protesting for the last month have a lot of pent-up energy to expend on getting their people to the polls, and they are saying vote Kloppenburg.

62 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Oh look. Prosser is whining again. All those intemperate comments!

As if I needed another reason to vote against an incumbent.

sane_voter said...

Kloppenburg, Kloppenburg, Kloppenburg . . .

I wonder how many votes she loses by having such a silly sounding last name. Not that it should matter, but it does.

Carol_Herman said...

I learned that when the presidential campaigns roll around, the ads come early. "But most Americans don't pay attention during the summer. Yet, just as Labor Day passes, most people who will vote have already made up their minds."

Even here I think the same rule is in play. Lots, if not most of those who will vote, have already made up their minds.

Nice debates. Don't amount to a hill of beans. Glad Prosser gave the galloping lady Klopperberg, or whatever, a good run for her money.

Also, I'll bet on the guy. I think women are gonna find themselves tanking; unless they're running under the republican label.

That's just me. And, my opinion.

Oh, yeah. And, I'm aware that Wisconsin will be having this special election on April 5th.

Brown, in California, to save money, is asking the legislature to pass a new law, canceling out all but one primary date. No March dates. Just the "big one" in June. Less work for voters. Sounds good to me.

sane_voter said...

Judge Buford Prosser, Walking Tall. Bringing a big stick of whoop-ass to a court near you.

YoungHegelian said...

Prosser is essentially correct here. There's a world of difference between the blog/facebook page of someone running for office and a private citizen.

For an office seeker, it's part of your campaign, your PR, and it's got to be carefully managed, comments and all.

If you disagree, try this thought experiment: what would happen to a Republican (e.g. "Smith")candidate who let a comment such as "You go, Smith. Keep them race-hustling, welfare-cheating, ni***rs in line!"

If that comment survived more than five minutes, would the electorate say he's not responsible for comments?

WV: striden -- describes that mean-ole McCarthyite Walker to a missing "T".

Carol_Herman said...

Wasn't Gableman called "Loophole Louie?"

It's like seeing the 9th just getting reversed by the Supremes. The case involved a rapist/murderer who was a "3 time loser" ... meaning after the juror's conviction ... he was sent away for 100 years, or more.

The 9th said "2 blacks were UNfairly discharged from the jury pool. Even though the State's Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.

So, that's why our Supreme Court just "dismissed the 9th's reversal because it made no (legal) sense."

roesch-voltaire said...

But Althouse it seems to me that Prosser is the person with an ideological ax to grind given his previous voting record and his attack on fellow justices, who he vows to bring down-- interesting that he attacks a woman with authority over him. At least Kloppenburg has shown that she can work with either party and has a fairly centrist voting record-- at least to my understanding.

Drew said...

I have a sense that by associating herself too closely with the idiot crybabies in Madison and their union masters, Kloppenburg will lose.

Oh, she'll win Dane County, but so did Russ Feingold and Tom Barrett.

Saul said...

I don't have first hand knowledge on the commentor issue, but it's probably more that Kloppenburg doesn't have time to monitor her facebook page. She has a full-time job and is running for the Supreme Court. I would be more concerned if she spent her day on facebook (and I'm not sure editing commentors is something that can be effectively delegated).


I do happen to know Kloppenburg fairly well, as we share a driveway. If she wins, I do think she will be independent (maybe in an Althousian kind of way). She is very principled in her belief system.

It is a shame that Supreme Court races have become so political. However, at least we have two qualified candidates. Gableman was a joke, regardless of what one might think of Butler.

James said...

>>Wasn't Gableman called "Loophole Louie?"

It's like seeing the 9th just getting reversed by the Supremes. The case involved a rapist/murderer who was a "3 time loser" ... meaning after the juror's conviction ... he was sent away for 100 <<

Are you off your meds?

Rick67 said...

Would I vote for Kloppenberg? Heck no.

But I'll cut her some slack on Facebook comments. Who the heck has time to go through them and delete those that are "inappropriate"?

There is plenty of grounds on which to argue she will not be a good impartial judge who rules based on law. Stupid Facebook comments are not one of them.

Trooper York said...

I think you are totally responsible for all of my comments.

Trooper York said...

And Roachy, Daniel Ortega is a moderate at least based on your understanding.

AJ Lynch said...

OT but we have too many different election cycles. Here in PA, the fed elections are in the even years while the city elections are in the odd years.

The pols even get good at putting ginormous bond propositions in a primary election in an odd year when about 10% of the registered even show up to vote. For instance, Fat Eddie Rendell had a $750 Million Bond issue approved by about 6% of registered because that is all it needed to win in an off year primary.

Simon said...

roesch-voltaire said...
"interesting that [Prosser] attacks a woman with authority over him"

I'm sure you're right that it was about her gender and not, say, her ideological commitments or abrasive style.

"[Kloppenburg] has a fairly centrist voting record…."

You should take a minute and think about that statement and what it unintentionally reveals.

Comrade X said...

I wouldn't draw any conclusions about a judicial candidate from the comments on a Facebook page.

I would however draw conclusions based on the fact she has a Facebook page.

AJ Lynch said...

Trooper - that's right. If it wasn't for Althouse, none of us would be here [in a virtual sense].

Trooper York said...

Roachy feels that we shouldn't prejudge Raul Castro because he is fairly moderate at least based on his understanding.

James said...

>>Who will turn out on April 5th? My sense is that the people who have been protesting for the last month have a lot of pent-up energy to expend on getting their people to the polls, and they are saying vote Kloppenburg. <<


I suppose we'll find out soon enough who will turn out more votes. All I know is that in the February 15 primary - just as the Budget Repair battle was heating up - Prosser got more votes than the three liberal candidates combined.

That isn't likely to change even though Kloppenburg's supporters are fired up. Conservatives are also determined to keep Prosser on the bench. Here in S/E Wisconsin there's a huge push by media figures like Vicki McKenna, Mark Belling, Charlie Sykes and others to turn out support for Prosser.

Trooper York said...

And he is against youse guys who are always putting women down just because they are female. So stop saying nasty things about Lindsey Lohan because she is chaste at least based on his understanding.

traditionalguy said...

Prosser sounds like a confident Appellate Judge to me; but what do I know about any Wisconsin politics? Just keep it up there and don't come down here. Remember what happened to Hans Christian Heg during his brief trip to Georgia. Oops, that sounded like Wisconsin politics.

Franklin said...

Louisiana is the Wisconsin of the South.

roesch-voltaire said...
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edutcher said...

Even Kos and Puffington (the old one) have felt obliged to scrub their comment boards on many occasions when the compassion and tolerance of the Lefties came shining through, so Kloppenburg has really opened herself up for a shot on this one.

That said, using the appellate courts as an alternate legislature (a "packed" court, if you will) is the Demos' favorite tactic anymore. So this will be about getting out the vote. I do think the level of carpetbagging by the Left in this matter may provoke the backlash Drew envisions.

PS That Ann doesn't scrub comments (except the occasional truly odious one) is a tribute to her dedication to free speech.

Andrea said...

No one with an important grown-up job like judge should be on Facebook. Facebook is for teenagers, people who for some reason want to keep touch with their high school friends after they graduate, and maybe people with small businesses for purposes of advertising. I mean really, how undignified is it that a judge has a Facebook page where apparently any yob can post some stupid, badly-spelled diatribe? And no, I'm not on Facebook.

I'm not even sure someone in a position of authority should have a blog. Maybe one without comments. There's a certain dignity of position that can't be maintained with all but the most rigidly policed comment section. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to have comments -- I have them -- but it's a tradeoff; there's always the chance someone will judge you by what people are saying in your "house" even if you don't agree with them.

galdosiana said...

There is a pro-Kloppenburg ad playing on tv here in Madison quite frequently these days, and it opens with the line: "Can we trust David Prosser to be impartial?"

I actually laughed when I saw it the first time. Seriously? These are the people who are getting out the vote for Kloppenburg specifically BECAUSE she is partial to their particular cause! I'm really getting tired of all this tit-for-tat.

Trooper York said...

Hey roachy who am I to quarrel with someone who share a parking space with this judge. You can tell a lot about someone by how they pull out of their driveway. Or something.

Pastafarian said...

I'm not sure why we should have to pretend that seats as judges and justices sit on high, far above the political fray.

You might wish it were so, but that doesn't make it so. We all know that there are conservative judges and liberal judges; that their judgment is colored by these already existing attitudes of theirs; and that they really already know precisely how they'll vote on issues that come before them, before they're ever elected or appointed.

Why should we pretend that this isn't true?

The idea that "judicial skill and temperament" are the reasons that the SCOTUS decisions on contentious hot-button issues normally break down along party lines, with the usual 5 on one side and 4 on the other -- that's absurd.

Usually, you say, the judicial candidates try hard to make it seem as though it's judicial skill that matters, and not their political bent. It seems like an elaborate charade, to preserve some sort of idyllic notion of a demigod judge.

Pshaw. (Latin, I believe, for "to hell with that shit." Or maybe Greek.)

Elliott said...

I love Prosser complaining. I mean after all an honest paraphrase of his interview the other day is, "Yeah, I called her a bitch, but she had it coming and she totally IS one."

Simon said...

roesch-voltaire said...
"Trooper based on my understanding your fairly witty. But that said, I agree with Saul who seems to know more than me and finds Kloppenburg to be independent and principled."

Frighteningly, a teacher wrote this mess. A student would be given an F for that performance, along with a lecture on correct punctuation, composition, and the difference between "your" and "you're." Let me ask you this: Do you share the unions' opposition to treating teachers on their individual merits, rather than collectively?

MadisonMan said...

No one with an important grown-up job like judge should be on Facebook.

I believe this is a Vote-For-Someone candidate page. Not an individual facebook page.

SteveR said...

I assume this is a Facebook page set up for her campaign and thus more open and with many "friends" As such she probably isn't spending much time on it but someone should. Its careless to establish it and not pay attention.

Just because setting up a Facebook page is easy, doesn't mean you should.

"You don't even know what the thing is yet."

D.D. Driver said...

I love that Prosser accuses Kloppenburg of "dissing" him. I would love for Prosser to go Full-Kazinski incorporate the phrase "wack mc" into a court opinion.

PaulV said...

but you are not running for a seat as a Justice

Trooper York said...

Now, now roachy don't try to butter me up.

I know you think I am witty only half of the time. So to speak.

Simon said...

Andrea said...
"No one with an important grown-up job like judge should be on Facebook."

Name a major political candidate and I'll give you a link to their facebook page. Your comments would probably have been good medicine a few years ago, and I would probably have agreed, but the world has moved on—and for better or worse, it has embraced facebook. Even Archbishop Dolan has a facebook page. It's become a standard social media portal, and when you think about the cost (effectively zero) versus potential benefit (how many Americans log on every day?), it's small wonder that politicians have adopted it.

Sloanasaurus said...

I think the citation to the facebook page is just a way for Prosser to bring up the idea that Kloppenburg may be inclined to be an activist judge - certainly that is what her supporters hope. So the comment is designed for undecided voters. Kloppenburg's supporters hope that she will be an activist judge and hope that her election to overturn the Union law. The question to undecided voters is do you want to vote for that? Or do you want to be on the side of Prosser's supporters who want him to be more like a plain ol judge - to be strict about what the statutes say etc...

It can be a very powerful way to criticise your opponent. Hey undecideds... which crowd do you want to run with Do you want to be in Michael Moore's group or the group on the side of the law.

Johnny said...

"[Kloppenburg] has a fairly centrist voting record…."

How would you know? Were you in the voting booth with her or did she tell you herself? If you mean she has a fairly cetrist history of ruling on court cases can you see into the future? She has never been a judge, only a prosecutor for the DNR who as it turns out was rejected for a promotion by her own boss Diamond Jim and also NEObama because she is/was so incompetent. The ignorance of liberals knows no bounds.

Irene said...
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Irene said...
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Irene said...
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DKWalser said...

There's an easy way to test the thesis that Kloppenburg has some responsibility for the comments on her Facebook page: Start posting pro-Prosser comments and see if they are deleted. If she allows the pro-Prosser comments to remain, she's maintaining an open commenting policy. If not, ...

Johnny said...

MadisonMan said, I believe this is a Vote-For-Someone candidate page. Not an individual facebook page."


If wishes were true!haha Oh yeah and Jim Shankman and his letter was just a Walker plot to make the left look bad.

TosaGuy said...

On the same day Milwaukee County is holding an election to fill Scott Walker's County Exec seat. The liberal is Chris Abele, a trustafarian with several thousand bucks in parking tickets, a DUI charge where he failed to appear in court for 7 years and tickets for getting into pissing contests with his neighbor (both own huge mansions) and throws fireworks in his lawn. He is a multi-millionaire who (legally) doesn't pay a penny of state income tax. He has also never had a real job in his life

He is running against State Rep Jeff Stone, a moderately conservative Republican who won the primary handily but not with a majority.

Abele has turned this race into a referendum on Walker and Stone isn't afraid to appear with Walker at campaign events.

My prediction is if Stone wins this race, then Kloppenburg won't pick up the votes she needs in Milwaukee County to win statewide.

Irene said...

MadisonMan said, I believe this is a Vote-For-Someone candidate page. Not an individual facebook page."

No; this is her official Facebook page.

Check out her comment on the Wall, where she calls it "our [F]acebook page": "Thanks everyone for your great support this evening. Be sure to suggest our facebook page to your friends so they can stay up to date on what is happening and learn when we will be in their area!"

This photo on that Facebook page has Prosser's head on a stake.

Sofa King said...

How dreary.

MadisonMan said...

Irene, yes, it's her campaign Facebook page. As opposed to one that you share with your friends. That was my point to Andrea.

I see there's a picture of her husband in the photos, too.

roesch-voltaire said...

Trooper I think that you are witty most of the time, but that I may be right only half the time. ( Yes I should have caught the error before I rushed to post the previous comment. )

Irene said...

Thanks, MadisonMan, I see.

But it's also the same page to which I referred in another thread. She should not cite herself as a "politician"; she should state instead "candidate for judicial office."

There should be a difference.

lawyapalooza said...

Prosser has a Facebook page. He also has had VERY long-standing temperment issues, including when he was in the Assembly. he was not an active lawyer for many years before joining the supreme court, unless you count when he was a district attorney. When he did that, he explicitly intervened to stop the prosecution os a Catholic priest who molested several children, including bringing a bishop to the victim's house to persuade them not to press charges. That same priest went on to molest many other innocent children.

He is a temperamental jerk, with a creepy demeanor and poor work ethic. And he proudly (until a cuple weeks ago) alligned himself with Walker. And that's why he should get the boot April 5.

MadisonMan said...

There should be a difference.

I don't think facebook recognizes one. Anyone running for office gets a Politician page.

I made a general interest page once for a class I teach. Facebook made me call it a 'Community' page.

Rules.

Irene said...

Prosser lists himself on his Facebook page as a "Governmental Official."

Rick67 said...

@Franklin - "Louisiana is the Wisconsin of the South".

Vien 'ci et dit ca cher! ;-)

MadisonMan said...

If you go to create a facebook fan page, one of the several 'types' you can choose is Artist, Band or Public Figure. Then you can choose the category.

Government Official is one, Politician is another. Or Public Figure.

And that is not Prosser's facebook page. That's a fan page. 'Connect with your fans on facebook' as they say.

Irene said...

It is his reelection campaign page, MadisonMan. Check the "Info" page.

Roger J. said...

Lord you idiots in Wisconsin are fucked up beyond belief--There arent two grey cells in the whole fucking state.

James said...

WOW....Mark Belling is going really hard after Kloppenburg. He's replaying and analyzing her response during the debate where she said she wasn't tough on crime.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

She just doesn't come across as being especially bright. Certainly not bright enough to be on the Supreme Court. That's probably why Obama and Doyle overlooked her. It's very disappointing that the left couldn't find a more qualified candidate. I think her only hope is that people stay focused on the budget battle. Otherwise, she's finished.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why in the WORLD would someone in her position have a Facebook page anyway?

Seriously?

Stiles said...

One can debate Kloppenburg's legal views and judicial temperament, but that Yale '74 next to her name means she's bright enough.

Simon said...

Stiles said...
"One can debate Kloppenburg's legal views and judicial temperament, but that Yale '74 next to her name means she's bright enough."

Clarence Thomas is a Yale '74; it didn't save him from accusations of being too dim.

Bruce said...

Some Wisconsinites believe that today's conservative judges vacation with wealthy, right-wing businessmen; give speeches at right-wing conventions;side with big business and government; and side against individuals. The myth is that conservative judges tend to favor small against large.