Monday, February 25, 2008

Bumble On

State Bar President Tom Basting has apparently decided that he wants to push the train wreck that is the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee down the track. A press release notes that Michael Gableman has signed his own "clean campaign" pledge. The WJIC, although it claims not to know what the Gableman pledge says (wouldn't a few mouse clicks have remedied that?), promises to hold him to it.

Of course, the self assumed mantle of arbiter of campaign etiquette (enhanced by the imprimatur of a state bar that apparently never authorized Basting's project)was precisely the reason not to sign WJCIC's campaign pledge. This group has no more authority or status than anyone else who might choose to comment on the supreme court race. After last week's e-mail fiasco, it has a lot less credibility

The press release also calls on Gableman to join Justice Butler in renouncing third party advertising. Perhaps he will, but it is, at best, easy virtue. These third parties have reasons of their own to speak on the race and they are not going to stop.

And is it even virtue? Do I want my candidates for Supreme Court to renounce the exercise of first amendment rights?

9 comments:

iT said...

Do I want my candidates for Supreme Court to renounce the exercise of first amendment rights?

I'll go out on a wild, tenuous limb here and answer, "No." But is anybody asking anybody to renounce their First Amendment rights? I don't think so.

I'd rather hear something by and about the candidates themselves rather than these ongoing complaints against Basting and the WJCIC, which strike me as largely irrelevant.

What I'd really like to see is a debate or three in which Butler and Gableman engage substantive questions of law or philosophy.

I could propose a few topics. Why don't you set something up at the Weasler Auditorium?

Rick Esenberg said...

If you want more debates, I think you are going to have to talk to Butler's camp.

Since third party advertising would be an exercise of first amendment rights, renouncing it would be ...?

iT said...

renouncing it would be ...?

It depends on the statement. If it was false, misleading, arguably defamatory, etc., then renouncing it would be the proper thing to do, in my estimation.

And, as I've said before, such renunciation would represent more speech, not an abridging of speech.

And, as I've also said before, I'm all for, for example, the rather comical exercise of Gableman campaign spokespeople violating their own "clean pledge" within hours of said pledge's appearance.

Dad29 said...

(enhanced by the imprimatur of a state bar that apparently never authorized Basting's project)

The Bar Ass'n would do itself a great service if they came out and SAID that the project is not authorized...

Terrence Berres said...

"If it was false, misleading, arguably defamatory, etc., then renouncing it would be the proper thing to do, in my estimation."

That wasn't the standard applied to Bill Kraus's comments within WJCIC on advice for the Butler campaign. President Basting doesn't even claim there was an unrecorded "But that would be wrong."

Anonymous said...

Members of the Bar who think the WJCIC is a bad idea (of whom there are probably a lot) should get together and tell Basting to pull the plug on WJCIC.

iT said...

Mr. Berres, I'm sure you've been following events closely enough to notice that there's been any number of renunciations of Kraus's "advice for the Butler campaign." While Kraus's remarks might be indicative of something, I don't see how they're false, misleading, defamatory, etc. As for no recorded instance of Basting's failure to "claim" something about it, I don't see that as indicative of anything.

My unsolicited counsel to the WJCIC regarding the various re- and denunciations of its activities would reflect committee member Carol Toussaint's response to Charlie Sykes's bloviating: "I vote for ignoring it." (In fact I would adopt that as a general rule applicable to Sykes's bloviating generally.)

Terrence Berres said...

IT:

Since Mr. Kraus's remarks come from within, rather than outside, WJCIC, the signicance is the lack of any disclaimer. Otherwise it appears to be WJCIC's position that anytime any member might want to discuss things in terms of how it helps the Butler campaign, at those moments a switch is thrown from "A Project of the State Bar of Wisconsin" to "private citizen exercising First Amendment rights".

Anonymous said...

Those e-mails show that the WJCIC is being run out of the bar, and Wisconsin lawyers are paying for it, so they really can't ignore what lawyers think about it. Especially the bar president.