Statewide attention on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race started to pick up last week, as one of the candidate’s in the race saw her name dominating headlines.
Comments made by Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley in opinion pieces she wrote while in college sparked a firestorm of criticism over anti-gay language she used in pieces published in a Marquette University newspaper. Bradley moved quickly to apologize for the columns written in 1992, which included comments such as “homosexual sex kills” and the argument that those who voted for President Bill Clinton were “either totally stupid or entirely evil,” saying she was “horribly embarrassed” by her remarks and that her worldview has changed since then.
Other columns released through the week showed Bradley comparing abortion to the holocaust and slavery, and referring to feminists as “angry, militant, man-hating lesbians.”
In a race where many voters remain unaware of the candidates, Marquette University political scientist Charles Franklin says the negative attention for Bradley may not have been the best introduction for the candidate. “Starting off facing questions and having to those are no longer my views is not a good way of starting the campaign,” Franklin says.
A Marquette poll in February showed Bradley and her opponent, Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, tied in the race – while more than 30 percent of voters were still undecided about who to support in the April 5 election.
Kloppenburg also came under attack last week with the release of a third party ad critical of a decision she made on the bench to grant a new hearing for a man who pleaded guilty to a child sexual assault. Kloppenburg has argued the ad is deceitful and misrepresents the unanimous ruling by three judges.
Franklin says how both candidates handle the recent negative publicity could be crucial in the weeks ahead, and could determine how voters see them when the election rolls around in just a few weeks.