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A Raft in a Quarry, Slowly Sinking

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The closeness of the Wisconsin judicial race presents a real dilemma for Althouse, not only because it seems to be weakening what remains of her grip on reality but because she needs to know who will win before she can decide whether judicial elections are good (i.e. a conservative might win against a liberal incumbent) or bad (i.e. a conservative incumbent might lose.) With Prosser’s loss likely, she was free to go full-wingnut on them. Inevitably, we get that classic blogosphere staple, sore-loser, evidence-free intimations of vote fraud. But it’s all a little pro forma; why, she doesn’t even cite the “insider” polls undoubtedly commissioned by Bono and Ke$ha that show that Prosser is more popular than Aaron Rodgers. Things don’t get really good until the end:

This is why I think a Kloppenburg victory will be a disaster. Her supporters and her opponents expect her to vote to undo the legislation of the Republican majority that won decisively in the November election. If she proceeds to decide cases that way, people — including her supporters — won’t believe that her vote was properly judicial, and the decision against the legislation will look like the court abused its power. How then will the court retain its prestige? If the people do not believe that the court is a court, then we will not have a workable system of separated powers in our state government.

Right. If Prosser loses, this will be a disaster because the judiciary would become “political.” If, on the other hand, the Republican-appointed longtime Republican politician and operative who considers himself an ally of Madison Republicans wins, then the judiciary will remain properly “judicial.” I’d say her contempt for her audience was justified except that she probably believes this crap. You might remember a similar theme from Althouse’s coverage of the Alito nomination: it’s not political for Bush to nominate someone he (correctly) viewed as a Republican party-liner, but it was somehow illegitimate for the Senate to evaluate justices by the same criteria presidents use. Why, if you believe that William Brennan and Sam Alito will interpret the Constitution differently, you must not believe in rights at all!

I don’t think judicial elections are a good idea — although not because I think appointed judges are therefore innocent of politics — but whether they’re good or bad or “political” or “apolitical” has nothing to do with who wins them. A Prosser win would have been no less “political” than a Kloppenburg win, and that would have been true even had Scott Walker not radicalized Wisconsin politics.

UPDATE: A very credible source we can expect Althouse to cite in the future.

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