The two candidates in the state Supreme Court race met Wednesday, for the first time since the release of a series of college-era columns penned by Justice Rebecca Bradley, which included anti-gay rhetoric, comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust, and criticism of AIDS patients and date rape victims.
Bradley and Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, who are running for the seat Bradley was appointed to by the governor last fall, appeared at a forum hosted by the Milwaukee Bar Association. The two weighed in on issues ranging from outside advertising in the race to court rules on recusal, although their most pointed exchanges focused in on the columns written by Bradley for Marquette University publications in 1992, when she was a student there.
Bradley restated her apology for her comments, which she said came at a time when she held a very different view of the world than she does now. “I am…extremely embarrassed and frankly mortified by those statements. I am very sorry to all of the people who had to read them a quarter century ago, and I’m very sorry to all of the people who had to read them this week,” she said.
Bradley claimed she has grown as a person since then. “We are not the same person that we were when we were a 20-year-old kid in college,” she said, while noting that interactions with people with different backgrounds and experiences since then have made her grow and realize how wrong she had been.
Kloppenburg was incredulous in her response though, arguing that Bradley has provided no clear evidence her worldview has changed. “She has continued to articulate very extreme and conservative viewpoints throughout her career, and be part of groups that espouse those kinds of viewpoints,” she said.
Bradley noted that she has zero record of injecting her personal politics into any rulings she has made from the bench.
The two candidates face each other in an election on April 5th.