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State Bar weighs in on Trump’s comments about federal judge

The Wisconsin State Bar has posted a statement on its website in support of the judiciary in response to President Donald Trump’s Feb. 4 tweet calling the federal judge who temporarily blocked his immigration executive orders a “so-called judge.”

State Bar President Fran Deisinger asked the governors at Friday’s Board of Governors meeting to approve the statement, noting that other state bars such as Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan have issued similar statements.

He said the statement would not be released as a news release and would instead be posted to the bar’s website.

“I want it to be clear that our intention here is not to say something every time the president says something we don’t like,” Deisinger said. “It’s to go on the record.”

The bar’s Board of Governors approved the statement as written on a voice vote after about an hour of debate Friday morning. The motion for the vote was made by Governor Anthony Gray and seconded by Governor Jill Kastner.

A number of governors weighed in in the hour-long discussion.

Governor John Birdsall said during the discussion ahead of the vote that he would support adopting the statement as-is.

“It is very constrained,” Birdsall said. “If I had written it there would be expletives in there. Thank God Fran is our president.”

Governor James Marshall, a nonlawyer governor, said he would not change anything in Deisinger’s statement.

“I don’t see the (board) can’t pass something like this,” said Marshall. “It goes to our core purpose … and if we did not make a statement, the public would say, ‘Where the hell are the attorneys on this?’”

But another nonlawyer governor, James Wenzler, said he felt the statement needed to be more neutral.

“We are leaving out Congress,” he said. “We need to recognize that there are three co-equal branches.”

Wenzler attempted to introduce an amendment to the statement because he said he felt it needed to be more neutral. The motion, which failed on a voice vote, was seconded by Governor Mark Petri.

“I think we are the guardians of all the branches of the government and all the laws of this country. … I think we have to be very careful with what we do,” he said.


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