Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates Spar Over Political Ties

Kloppenburg, Bradley Accuse Each Other Of Partisanship

Wisconsin Public Television

Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court candidates sparred over judicial philosophy and political ties in a debate on Friday night, trading familiar jabs in the increasingly heated race.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley and appeals court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg both criticized the other for being too biased or partisan in an officially nonpartisan race. They also deliberated over related topics of third-party advertising and the role of personal experience when interpreting law.

Debate moderators also asked Bradley about anti-gay columns she wrote as a Marquette University law student, as well as a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report about her romantic involvement with a former client in a child custody case — two stories that have rocked Bradley’s campaign over the past two weeks.

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Bradley said she’s apologized for her writings as a student, and that she’s changed her views since then. She also described the Journal Sentinel story as “salacious” and “misleading.”

The two candidates are vying for a full 10-year term on the court in the April 5 election. Bradley has been appointed to judgeships three times by Gov. Scott Walker, most recently to her seat on the high court in October. She largely has the backing of conservatives, while liberals are backing Kloppenburg, who had heavy support from liberal groups in a failed 2011 state Supreme Court bid against Justice David Prosser.

The debate was organized by Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and broadcast by WPT and WPR through their statewide networks.

Watch the debate below, or review Wisconsin Vote.org’s live chat during the debate, featuring former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial page editor David Haynes, and Wisconsin Vote reporter Scott Gordon:

Live Blog Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Debate