If conservatives in Wisconsin are regarding the upcoming Tuesday, February 15 primary as just another insignificant spring election day, they may want to reconsider. Pro-life, pro family, and fiscally conservative 12-year Supreme Court justice David T Prosser is up for reelection and is facing a 4-way race.
“I present myself as a judicial conservative, devoted to the constitution and the rule of law. My job is to find the law and apply it properly, not to make it up to advance some ideological objective,” he says on his Web site.
Since being appointed by former Governor Tommy Thompson to the Wisconsin Supreme Court Bench in place of Janine Geske, who resigned at the her 10-year term in 1998, Prosser has been on the court for 12 years after he was officially elected in 2001. He has participated in 900 Supreme Court decisions. This year, in running for his second term, Prosser has 3 challengers to unseat him: Assistant state Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, Madison lawyer Joel Winnig, and Marla Stephens, director of the State public defender’s appellate division. With the Wisconsin Supreme Court narrowly led by conservatives 4 to 3, having Prosser win the primary and challenge for reelection would be a big step toward keeping the bench in favor of conservative and constitutional judicial philosophies.
According to his Web site:
Justice Prosser was born in Chicago and raised in Appleton, receiving his bachelor’s degree in political science from DePauw University in 1965, and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1968.
Before joining the court, Justice Prosser served on the Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission where he conducted hearings and issued decisions on disputes related to Wisconsin taxation.
He was appointed to the Tax Appeals Commission following an 18-year career in the Wisconsin Legislature, where he represented the Appleton area in the Assembly from 1979 through 1996. During his tenure, he served six years as Assembly Minority Leader and two years as Assembly Speaker.
For 14 years, he was a legislative member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. In 2005 he was reappointed to the Commission by Assembly Speaker John Gard and served until 2007.
Prior to his election to the Assembly, Justice Prosser served as Outagamie County District Attorney. He also worked in Washington, D.C., first as an attorney/advisor in the Office of Criminal Justice, United States Department of Justice; then as administrative assistant to U.S. Representative Harold Froehlich, a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment inquiry.
Justice Prosser served on the Supreme Court Planning and Policy Advisory Committee’s Court Financing Subcommittee (2002-04), the Judicial Council of Wisconsin (2002-06), and currently serves on the Supreme Court Citation of Unpublished Opinions Committee and Rules Procedures Committee.
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court terms last 10 years. The primary on Tuesday will determine the 2 challengers for the April 5th spring election, narrowing the field of candidates from 4 to down to 2. Prosser, who has his detractors, admits that he has had a couple of questionable controversies over the past few years. One that included his testimony on behalf of former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen in 2006 when Jensen was accused of using taxpayer dollars to run Republican campaigns. Prosser, who was the prior assembly speaker, volunteered that he would testify to having done the same things in his tenure and that both parties performed such actions. He eventually was not allowed to give his testimony; however, Jensen’s conviction was overturned in part because of Prosser’s comments. Jensen then had a retrial in Waukesha County where he plead guilty and paid a fine for the charges. The other issue that opponents may use against him his refusal to discipline colleague Michael Gableman for lying in a campaign ad. The court was deadlocked 3-3 with Prosser siding with other conservatives on the court.