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View from around the state: Trust Walker to pick right-wing ideologue for state’s high court

— From The Capital Times

Leave it to Scott Walker to find the most right-wing ideologue to appoint to the state Supreme Court, where Walker’s strong supporters already have a 4-2 seat majority.

The governor obviously doesn’t want to take any chances that a “soft” justice might cost him a case that could deter his radical agenda to change Wisconsin.

Walker picked an outspoken supporter of right-wing causes, Milwaukee lawyer Dan Kelly, to replace the retiring Justice David Prosser, who was also a conservative but during his legislative career had been known more as a moderate Republican.

The governor could have picked from two other finalists for the appointment, Appeals Court Judges Mark Gundrum and Thomas Hruz. Gundrum, a former Republican legislator, was a strong supporter of open records and meetings and had been known for a willingness to compromise. Hruz, who Walker appointed to the Appeals Court in 2014, served for a period of time as Prosser’s law clerk.

But moderation isn’t in Walker’s vocabulary. He turned instead to a lawyer who has been a major supporter of privatizing public schools and once equated affirmative action with slavery. Kelly was also a fan of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and praised his blistering dissent in the court’s landmark case sanctioning gay marriage.

According to research by the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, Kelly was general counsel for the Kern Family Foundation whose founders, Robert and Patricia Kern, have made individual contributions totaling $220,000 to Walker. He also sits on the board of advisers for the right’s legal bulldogs, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which frequently takes conservative causes to the high court.

Kelly will join Chief Justice Pat Roggensack and Justices Michael Gableman and Annette Ziegler, all of whom have been recipients of massive contributions from right-wing advocacy groups during their election campaigns, and Justice Rebecca Bradley, another staunch conservative appointed by Walker to fill out the rest of the term of the late Justice Patrick Crooks, a moderate liberal who died in office in late 2015.

The new radical brand of Wisconsin Republicanism now has firm control of all three branches of state government. And with this latest appointment, Scott Walker is making sure it stays that way for a long time.

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