Robert Knight

It seems like only yesterday that progressives were warning us about "politicizing the judiciary."

That was after Iowa's voters declined last November to retain three Supreme Court justices who had ruled to overturn the state's marriage law. Today, after a feverish and expensive campaign by unions to remove conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, you'll hear no such talk.

With the April 5 election between Judge Prosser and liberal JoAnne Kloppenburg possibly headed for a recount, the progressive view can be summarized as follows: "Take that, Walker!" That would be Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who signed a law on March 11 ending much of collective bargaining for the government employee unions that are bankrupting the state. The fight over the bill was a media bonanza, with Senate Democrats storming out and holing up in Illinois, angry mobs occupying the capitol in Madison, a government school teacher walkout, and multiple threats for retribution against GOP lawmakers.

After the law passed, the unions turned their attention to the April 5 Supreme Court election, throwing "judicial independence" to the winds. They reasoned, correctly, that flipping Justice Prosser's seat to the liberal Ms. Kloppenburg could create a 4-3 liberal majority that could undo what Mr. Walker and the GOP legislature had wrought.

The unions pulled out all stops, holding rallies and pouring big bucks into TV and radio ads. Local 882 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ran an anti-Prosser TV ad on its Facebook site. Likewise, AFSCME Local 1942 at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics ran anti-Prosser articles on its website and urged union members to vote for Ms. Kloppenburg. With conservative and business groups ponying up as well for a countercampaign supporting Justice Prosser, the normally boring judicial election brought out 1.5 million voters, or nearly double the usual tally. Ms. Kloppenburg originally appeared to win by a couple hundred votes. Now thousands of votes mistakenly left out of one county's total have given Justice Prosser a commanding lead.

As with the unsavory behavior caught on tape in the capitol, the unions have sometimes strayed dangerously close to thuggery. AFSCME Council 24 issued letters to businesses in southeast Wisconsin warning them to put a pro-union sign up in their windows or else.

The letter says, "Failure to do so will leave us no choice but [to] do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means 'no' to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members."


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.