MADISON — Jill Karofsky is proof that the term for Wisconsin Supreme Court justices can feel like a 10-year sentence.
The liberal jurist last week proved why she is the activist judge many warned she would be.
In her recent dissent of the court’s decision to allow U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson to file an amicus brief in a lawsuit over the use of ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting, Karofsky argued that the Oshkosh Republican should not be allowed to offer arguments.
Because the senator “has a personal stake in the ultimate ruling.”
Yes, he does. Just like any other candidate running for office — precisely the people who just might have very meaningful arguments in a case about election security and integrity issues.
“The leftists at our state Supreme Court are so blatantly partisan as to write an opinion (a dissent at least) that a sitting United States Senator who will be on the ballot in November should not be allowed to file a brief with the court about it,” a Wisconsin civil rights attorney told Wisconsin Spotlight.
He went on to speculate that Karofsky, a Madison progressive with a record of picking politics over law, wouldn’t be voicing the same concerns if U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a fellow Madison liberal, had asked to file a brief in the case.
Karofsky argues those who file amicus briefs come as an “impartial adviser” or “friend” of the court. Johnson, the justice argues, comes as “an advocate” for his own interest.
“Here, Senator Johnson makes no secret of his personal stake in this dispute over absentee ballot return procedure, acknowledging that he will appear as a Senate candidate on an upcoming ballot. Indeed, he argues this ‘direct interest in the outcome’ is a reason we should accept his amicus curiae motion,” Karofsky writes.
Conservative Justice Rebecca G. Bradley, in concurring with the majority opinion to allow Johnson to file a brief, schooled Karofsky on her ignorance of the law, particularly the relevant rule on such briefs.
“Nowhere in the statutory text does any Latin phrase appear (let alone amicus curiae),” Bradley wrote in an opinion taking the liberal justice to task. “Nor does the text suggest a non-party with an interest in the case cannot submit a brief. To the contrary, the statute requires non-parties to disclose their interest in the case, inherently recognizing that all— or at least most—persons who take the time to write a brief will have an interest.”
More so, the law underscores that some who seek to enter a case will openly advocate in “support or opposition” of a position taken by the litigants. It’s up to the court to decide whether “reading the person’s arguments will assist the court in analyzing the law.”
Justice Karofsky can’t seem to separate the two.