So I get home from work tonight to a blinking answering machine. When I press play, I hear a Serious Female Voice:
This is an important pulbic safety message . . .Oh no! Maybe there's some nut on the loose with a gun!
. . . from the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce . . .Maybe the peanut butter can kill you!
. . . Judge Annette Ziegler has the exp--Next! Puh-lease! Can we be for real?
Well, eventually I listened to the rest of the call. It was all "Ziegler is tough on crime" and whatnot, and, as you can guess by the title of this post, it was clearly designed to give the impression that, were Linda Clifford (you know, the one without the exp--) to be elected, chaos would break out all over the state.
And that's Ziegler's primary campaign theme: She, like JB "Batman" Van Hollen before her, is running for an office other than the one on the ballot. Lindsay Buechel in the La Crosse Tribune explains:
Annette Ziegler presents a misleading assumption about the race happening this spring. She states that being a trial judge makes her a better candidate. [. . .] The Supreme Court needs a seasoned practitioner who knows how the decisions it makes directly impact the people of Wisconsin more than it needs another trial judge.Deke Rivers elaborates:
Ziegler keeps mentioning that she is the only judge in the race, and therefore better suited for the Supreme Court. But she seems to forget that our long tradition in Wisconsin has voters respecting diversity of profession when voting for Justices. Just a decade ago the majority of those serving on the bench came from outside the court system. As an example, it is clear that Chief Justice Abrahamson is a remarkable member of the Court. On the conservative side the same argument can be made for former Speaker of the Assembly Dave Prosser, who all must admit is a much-respected jurist. Therefore one can make a strong case for placing a judge on the bench with real life-problem solving skills. Clifford brings those skills, along with her decades of experience in government, private practice, and State Bar involvement with her as she seeks our vote. Her involvement in a whole series of federal and state cases makes her more than qualified for the job.Being "tough on crime" is really not a bad qualification for a prosecutor or a municipal judge (notice, no one ever runs for DA with a "soft on crime" platform). But on the state's Supreme Court, you want someone who can provide a thoughtful approach to substantial matters across a wide spectrum of judicial theory. "Tough on crime" tells us nothing about a judge's ability to weigh matters of constitutional consequence; a strict lock-em-up, throw-away-the-key mentality is not necessarily a good fit on the high court.
To imply that if we don't elect her, that we'll have criminals leaking out of prisons and "public safety" will be endangered is absurd. And offensive.