Posted by: JanF | April 3, 2013

The “Lying Down With Pigs” Rule

Or maybe the “Governing as a Right-Wing Tool Has Consequences” Rule?

Republicans are fond of saying that “elections have consequences” … until the consequences are something they don’t like and then they are quick to squeal that Democrats or The Left-Wing Media are being unfair to them.

In yesterday’s spring election in Wisconsin, another Scott Walker judicial appointee was removed from the Dane County Circuit Court.

DANE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE Branch 16
RHONDA L. LANFORD (NON) 52.5 % 42860
REBECCA ST. JOHN (NON) 47.4 % 38694


In Wisconsin, when there is a judicial vacancy, the governor appoints someone who must then run for election. For the second year in a row, a Scott Walker selected Dane County judge went down in defeat.

Last week, our local right-wing newspaper was already pre-bemoaning the outcome:

“Will Judge Rebecca St. John’s appointment by Scott Walker decide her election bid?”

Last year, Ellen Berz, a defense attorney, knocked off incumbent Judge Roger Allen at least in part by repeatedly highlighting the fact that he was appointed to the bench by the Republican governor.

“For Circuit Court judge, the choice is clear,” announces Lanford’s first TV ad. “Chosen by Scott Walker, Rebecca St. John believes the Legislature should limit the power of our courts.”

In the liberal bastion of Dane County, home to Madison and our state capitol, the suggestion that the legislature should not be limited by anything pesky like the constitution or laws or, heaven forbid, COURTS(!!) is always going to raise our hackles. It reminds us of the delightful exchange between Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) in March 2011 when the Republicans set aside the rule of law to force through the union busting bill known as Act 10. That legislative chicanery led to all 14 of the Democratic state senators leaving the state to prevent the quorum needed to pass the law and, more importantly, putting the brakes on the process long enough so that the courts could weigh in. Judicial review is still pending on some of the aspects of Act 10 but without the judges stepping in, many of the provisions of the law would have been implemented in 2011.

So when it was discovered that on the application that Walker appointee St. John submitted to the governor, her favorite court ruling and her least favorite court ruling both showed her belief that the courts have no power to override the legislature … in essence, if the legislature does it, it can’t be illegal … that got our attention.

Her choice for Bestest Court Decision Evah? The one where the Supreme Court said: “we do not recognize a broad, inherent power [for a Circuit Court Judge] to order a new trial in the interest of justice at any time”.

And her choice for worst? A decision where the Supreme Court ordered a new trial based on newly discovered DNA evidence. None of that justice stuff, she said, how dare the Supreme Court reason “that it had ‘inherent authority’ to reverse Armstrong’s conviction, regardless of statutory limitations”.

The court race led one of the right-wingiest pundits in our right-wing newspaper to ask this question:

What’s an aspiring Dane County judge to do? Refrain from applying for any judicial opening while Scott Walker is governor?

Yes. Because lying down with pigs makes you stink. And because elections like yesterday’s in Dane County where we as voters exercised our right to choose who we think will dispense justice and not just rubberstamp the legislature, is the direct consequence of the contempt for the rule of law shown by Scott Walker and his legislative henchmen.

Next question?

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