ACLU Against Wisconsin, Round I
May 1, 2007
The facts for this piece come from an article, but not the legal conclusions, in The Wall Street Journal on 21 April. It noted that $40 million was spent on all races for the state Supreme Courts across the country, but of that, $6 million was spent on a single race for an open seat in Wisconsin.
The two candidates for this position were, in alphabetical order, Linda Clifford and Annette Ziegler. Clifford was a proponent of the concept of “a living constitution,” meaning the same thing in Wisconsin that that concept means on the US Supreme Court, namely that the judges could read new meanings into existing language. They would do this based on their personal understanding of the ethos of the times.
The term used in many Wisconsin newspapers during the race was that Clifford believed in a “flexible constitution.” It should be no surprise that Linda Clifford was closely associated with the ACLU in Wisconsin, and with Planned Parenthood. She also had no prior experience as a judge.
Annette Ziegler was a sitting judge on the Washington County Circuit Court, with an established record. By contrast to her opponent, Ziegler believes in strict construction, that the proper business of a judge is to interpret the laws and the constitution according to original intent. She believes that a judge should follow and apply the law, not write new law from the bench.
Due to serious campaigning and fund-raising, and against a tide of media bias, Ziegler defeated Clifford by a significant margin of 58% to 42%. The people of Wisconsin chose a judge who would obey the law, not rewrite the law.