Prosser wins – what it means for Wisconsin

Yesterday, almost two months after the State Supreme Court election, JoAnne Kloppenburg finally conceded the race to Justice David Prosser.  Even after the long and tedious recount process, Prosser still led by a margin of 7,000+ votes and it was  evident that a court challenge likely wouldn’t change that.

What does Prosser’s reelection to the State Supreme Court mean for Wisconsin?  The most significant outcome of the finally over election is that Wisconsin retains a conservative majority on the highest court in the state, 4-3.  Court observers predicted that a Kloppenburg win would have moved the bench to a liberal majority.  In fact, after the high-profile, expensive, contentious Supreme Court race and the drawn-out recount process, it appears that the conservative bloc on the bench is more solidified than ever before.

Considering the significance of the cases that will likely end up before the State Supreme Court in the next few years, the judicial philosophy of the justices on the bench is as important as everyone made it out to be.  Wisconsin’s State Supreme Court will likely consider cases challenging

  1. The new Voter ID law
  2. Gov. Doyle’s same-sex-only, statewide domestic partnership registry (Appling, et. al., v. Doyle, et. al.)
  3. Gov. Walker’s policy significantly limiting collective bargaining for public employees
  4. The rules regulating guardianship for child custody cases
  5.  Religious liberty in the public square
  6. The defunding of Planned Parenthood in Gov. Walker’s 2012-2013 state budget
That’s just a small sampling of the kind of cases Wisconsin’s high court will likely decide in the next few years.  And there is some merit in the claim that our State Supreme Court is one of the more influential courts in the country–the high court’s decisions could have far-reaching impact beyond our state.
The outcome of this race was hugely significant and also rather telling.  Coming, as it did, on the heals of the most contentious public policy battle in recent state history, the race received far more attention than it would have otherwise.  With 1.5 million votes cast, and a 7,000-vote margin, it highlighted the deep divide in Wisconsin politics, a divide that will no doubt continue into the recall election cycle.

What to Expect

This week’s radio commentary:

Wisconsin Family Connection –
Week of May 9, 2011, – #887 – “What to Expect”

We’ve have definitely had our share of uncertain and highly unusual times here in Wisconsin of late. I wish I could say that things will clear up soon and we’ll be back to some semblance of normal in politics and government. Unfortunately, I can’t promise you that.

The current administration and legislative majority were elected in November last year on a wave of dissatisfaction with government. Voters expected their newly elected officials to work hard to create a better business and jobs atmosphere in Wisconsin, to be accountable and honest, to uphold and protect their liberties.

None of us expected to be facing a bevy of recall elections, a statewide Supreme Court election recount, massive protests at the Capitol, 14 Senators leaving the state for 3 weeks, and an extremely tense political landscape.

Here’s a sampling of what’s going on right now in your Capital City and across the state. The State Assembly is set to go back on the floor again this week and it’s likely the State Senate will as well. The Assembly will vote on several bills related to the Department of Natural Resources and several others that expand and extend the Milwaukee Parental School Choice Program.

The Assembly could also take up the Voter ID bill. The Senate passed Voter ID several months ago while the Senate Democrats were living in self-imposed exile in Illinois.  However, the Republicans could not take the final vote on the bill because it had a fiscal impact and they needed that 20-member quorum to vote on it.

The Voter ID bill would require citizens to present a valid photo ID to vote and also makes some changes to absentee voting and military and overseas voting. During the Assembly Committee public hearing on the bill last month, college students turned out to testify against the original bill’s prohibition against the use of college ID’s for voting. The newest version of the bill allows college ID’s, within certain parameters—such as they must include an address of residence and a photograph.

Concealed carry is another high-profile item on the agenda right now. Legislators have introduced two types of bills. One is a “constitutional carry”—which means it does not place restrictions on concealed carry or require a permit or training to conceal. The other bill is what is known as a “shall issue” or permit concealed carry—which means that gun owners can apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Forty-eight states have some version of concealed-carry. Wisconsin and Illinois are the only two that don’t. A handful of states have a “constitutional carry” law and the rest have some sort or permit and/or training requirement.  The majority party—the Republicans—are having some serious disagreement among their own members as to which bill is better.  Now the bills’ authors are asking for public input on the two proposals.

The next few weeks will tell us the true character of the Republican majority at the State Capitol. Can the Republican caucus iron through differences between the large, vocal, freshman caucus and the battle-weary establishment?

As an organization, we’re very much interested in the answer to that question. There are a number of issues that the people of Wisconsin expect our legislators to address: everything from Voter ID to pro-life, pro-family issues, including the repeal of the Healthy Youth Act. Now is the time for action, for courageous and difficult decisions.

We knew going into it that this was going to be a tough legislative session. Everyone agrees we need to cut spending but no one wants their program cut. Last session, the Democrats passed a number of anti-life, anti-family policies that need to be addressed. However, once a law is in place, it’s extremely difficult to repeal.

Frankly, we need new ideas, creative alternatives and residents across the state who are ready and willing to take back local control on a number of issues we’ve ceded to the state government.

So, what can you do? Pray! Pray for godly wisdom and courage for elected officials. And then put actions to your prayers. Keep holding your elected officials accountable.  Stay in contact with them. Let them know your opinions on the issues. Call the legislative hotline at 800-362-9472 or our offices at 888-378-7395 to find out who represents you. Keep updated on the issues that are important you and be ready to come to Madison to testify. Get involved with the elections at your local level if you’re facing a Senate recall election.

I can’t tell you what to expect, but I can tell you this: unless we all stay informed and involved, we won’t like the outcome.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Download/listen to the MP3 file.