Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Get Back to Me in April

Wispolitics is reporting that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is planning to “sit out” this spring’s race between Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick. Forgive me if I’m not dancing in the streets just yet. It would probably be best to check back in April. Chances are high that this is simply a conservative shell game.

The report says that the big biz lobby, that so tarnished the last two elections for the state Supreme Court, plans to only provide “background” on the two candidates this time around. We will see what they mean soon enough. Will they pay another Federalist Disciple to produce a “white paper” that serves as little more than a conservative hit piece? Will they launch a strategically timed series of press releases for “background only” that end up unfairly attacking another sitting justice? Will that “background” turn into front page stories?

If they really do “sit out” this one, we should pay even closer attention. What will likely happen is that the corporate cash will just go to the many shameless conservative groups that have been perfecting the smear campaign. That could serve as another Christmas for groups like All Children Matter, WIL and others. If the cash flows in that direction, then this new announcement will mean very little. Many of these groups have already shown that they have no problem with ratcheting up the sleaze factor and keeping us from a real and substantive debate. That has also been the corporate lobby's calling card, whether WMC's name is on the TV ad or not.


Rick Esenberg said...

Daniel Suhr was not paid for writing the white paper that is discussed in the post that you link to. You ought to take some care before you say things like that.

I, on the other hand, was paid honoraria for two white papers in the last two cycles, neither of which focused on the candidates and, if you think they were conservative hit pieces, you are unaware of the very legitimate debate among judges, lawyers and academics regarding judicial philosophy. No one told me what to say.

And, no, I won't be writing one during this election cycle, although I do hope to complete a scholarly response to a piece in last spring's Marquette Law School criticizing what I and Judges Sykes and Brennan have had to say about the supreme court. I don't get paid anything for that in particular, although scholarship is part of what Marquette pays me for.

Cory Liebmann said...

I added a link about you/wmc to that sentence. Perhaps I confused the two of you because you have done very similar things with the same timing, and promote the same dogma, and come from the same place. In my opinion, the work that both of you have done in this area attempt to serve the same purpose: provide academic/legal cover for others to attack a sitting justice just before an election. So lets not pretend that these things served as only high minded academic discussions of law.

Actually the main question that I’m raising is not really about either of you…It is about WMC’s announcement and if anything will really be different because of it. 1. Will WMC’s providing “background” include them using the same exact model (absent only the TV ads)? 2. If they don’t use the same model, will the cash just flow to the other right wing groups to do it for them?

Rick Esenberg said...

The papers that I wrote and Daniel's are not alike. He undertook to analyze Justice Butler's opinions. I looked at trends in the court and significant pending cases. While I made a case for a judicial philosophy that is not shared by Linda Clifford or Louis Butler, I did not focus on the views of either one of them.

That I think this is a useful academic discussion is reflected in the fact that I am currently working on a response to a piece by Judge Adelman which appeared in the Marquette Law Review, an academic journal and that, at Marquette, we have had competing perspectives on the question as part of our Hallows Lecture series.

Of course, I made a decision to speak at a time when I thought people would be paying attention and was happy to accept support from those who could help promote what I had to say. I certainly understand that my perspective favors the views of some candidates and not others. But that doesn't mean that they are "cover" "hit pieces" or some other "unfair" interference in the elctoral process. They are ideas to which you would do better to respond to than to kick dirt at.