Thursday February 9, 2023

An Independent Progressive Media Outlet

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
News Feeds:

Progressive Thinking

Discussion with education and reason.

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit political watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260

Evers Right About Direct Democracy

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 22 September 2022
in Wisconsin

womens-healthGov. Evers is right to call for binding referendums, and how this call echoes one from another progressive Wisconsin governor 111 years ago! - Matt Rothschild


MADISON - On Sept. 21, Gov. Tony Evers made a bold move: He came out in favor of binding referendums, and he called the Legislature back to vote on beginning the process of amending our Wisconsin Constitution to provide for such popular sovereignty.

Noting the motto inscribed in the Capitol that proclaims, “ The will of the people is the law of the land,” Evers pointed out that this is no longer true in Wisconsin – especially on abortion rights.

tony-evers“Well, right now, today, when it comes to reproductive freedom, the will of the people isn’t the law of the land. And it damn well should be, folks. It really should,” Evers said.

Evers is right about reproductive freedom. In the latest Marquette Law School poll, 63 percent opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and 83 percent of Wisconsinites favored allowing a woman to get an abortion in cases of rape and incest. And that included 70 percent of Republicans. Only 10 percent of Wisconsinites oppose such a provision. Yet with the overturning of Roe, Wisconsin, under the abortion ban passed back in 1849, doesn’t allow exceptions for rape and incest. (Tim Michels, by the way, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest.)

And it’s not just the issue of reproductive freedom where the will of the people of Wisconsin is being denied. The Marquette Law School poll in August found that 78 percent of Wisconsinites favor paid medical leave for parents of new babies. And 69 percent favor legalizing marijuana (a whopping 83% favored legalizing medical marijuana in a previous Marquette poll).

The vast majority of Wisconsinites also favor banning gerrymandering, with 72 percent approval, according to a 2019 Marquette poll, and 87 percent approval, according to a 2021 poll by YouGov.

When We, the People, aren’t getting what we overwhelmingly want, there’s something seriously wrong with our democracy.

And one way to fix it is by giving us the right of binding referendums, as Evers is proposing.

After all, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio have it. Why can’t we, here in Wisconsin?

In two cases over the past decade, Michigan and Ohio used it to great effect.

After Scott Walker rammed through Act 10, dealing a crushing blow to public sector unions, Republicans in Ohio passed a copy-cat bill, which was signed into law. But the people of Ohio wouldn’t stand for it, and they overturned it by referendum.

In Michigan, a grassroots activist named Katie Fahey was so appalled by the gerrymandering in her home state that she started a movement on Facebook to ban it, and she and other activists got hundreds of thousands of signatures to place the referendum on the ballot. And in 2018, it passed, and gerrymandering is no longer legal in Michigan.

matt-rothschild-2018 Evers is not the first governor of Wisconsin to propose giving the people of Wisconsin such power. Back in 1911, Governor Francis McGovern asked the Legislature to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to allow binding referendums. “The great task of the time,” he said, “is how to make and keep government really representative of the people.” Binding referendums “embody but one idea: that of placing the people in actual control of public affairs.”

So here we are, 111 years later, and that remains the great task of our time, because the people of Wisconsin still don’t have actual control of our public affairs, and our government is still not really representative of the people.

We’ve got to change that, and Tony Evers has the right idea to do so.

##

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Wis Democracy Campaign - Who are the top 10 donors?

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 09 September 2022
in Wisconsin

MADISON - Our research team just did an interesting study of the top 10 donors to the legislative campaign committees in Wisconsin. See if you can guess who was number 1. Also on the list: a Wal-Mart heir who lives in Arkansas. Here’s our post:

22-contributorsCheck Out the Top Contributors to the Wisconsin Legislative Campaign Committees

This week, as you may have heard, a judge down in Waukesha tied the hands of municipal clerks, forbidding them from fixing even the most picayune errors that the witness – not the voter! – made in filling out their address. Here’s what I had to say about that:

22-ballotWaukesha Judge Sides with Republicans on Petty Disqualifications

I’d also like to share with you what I wrote about Pres. Biden’s speech late last week in Philadelphia:

Three Cheers for Biden in Defending Democracy

Biden and all of us need to keep calling out the anti-democracy forces for what they are. Now’s not the time to pussyfoot around!

I hope you have a nice weekend.

Best,

matt-rothschild-2018Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

P.S. If you appreciate the work we do, please send us a tax-deductible donation by clicking here, where you can pay by credit card or PayPal.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Big Victory for Voters with Disabilities in Wisconsin!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 01 September 2022
in Wisconsin

votingFederal Judge overrules Wisconsin Supreme Court, along with a state statute, that violated the rights of voters with disabilities to obtain assistance in the delivery of their absentee ballots.


MADISON—Yesterday was a day for celebration!

Federal Judge James Peterson ruled that a recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme, along with a state statute, violated the rights of four voters with severe physical disabilities to obtain assistance in the delivery of their absentee ballots.

He granted summary judgment to these plaintiffs who brought the case (Carey v. WEC) and ruled that any disabled voter who needs assistance in the delivery of their absentee ballot can’t be denied such assistance.

At issue was a state statute that said that an absentee ballot must be “delivered in person, to the municipal clerk.” Also at issue was the Wisconsin Supreme Court July decision in the Teigen case that said voters themselves had to deliver that ballot to the clerk. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had also left unclear, in that decision, whether voters could get assistance in putting their absentee ballots in the mail.

Now voters with disabilities, if they need it, will be able to get assistance both in delivering their absentee ballot to the clerk and in putting their absentee ballot in the mail.

Judge Peterson, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, pointed out that the Wisconsin statute and the decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court had left voters with physical disabilities in a quandary.

He noted that they risked “imminent injury regardless of what they do. If they choose to comply with [the statute], they will have to forfeit their right to vote or attempt to vote in person with great difficulty and perhaps even at risk to their health and safety. But if plaintiffs violate [the statute] by obtaining assistance to vote absentee, their vote could be rejected, and they could be sanctioned for violating the law.”

This is an unacceptable bind to put any voter in, Judge Peterson ruled.

And he explained that the Wisconsin statute and the ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court collide head on with the protections under the Voting Rights Act.

“The Voting Rights Act is clear: disabled voters who need assistance in returning an absentee ballot are entitled to ask a person of their choosing for that assistance,” he wrote. He quoted the relevant section of the Voting Rights Act, which states:

voterid_hand“Any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter’s employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter’s union.”

This conflict between federal law and state law also put voters with disabilities in a bind, the judge said. “Voters shouldn’t have to choose between exercising their federal rights and complying with state law,” he wrote. “But that is the position that plaintiffs find themselves in.”

But they no longer are in that position now because Judge Peterson pointed out that federal law takes precedent over state law. As he put it, the Voting Rights Act “preempts” the state statute.

And so he issued a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that Wisconsin must provide “third-party ballot-return assistance to disabled voters who require such assistance.”

This is a tremendous victory for voters with disabilities, for disability rights activists, and for our fundamental freedom to vote.

And it’s a bracing defeat for the rightwing justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who so cavalierly dismissed the rights of disabled voters in Wisconsin.

It’s also an embarrassing defeat for the rightwing Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which brought the Teigen case in the first place in an effort to erect barriers for all of us to have to clear in the exercise of our freedom to vote.

matt-rothschildI send my congratulations to the four plaintiffs who courageously came forward and to Law Forward, the great pro-democracy law firm that represented the plaintiffs so brilliantly. And I send my congratulations to Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, which has pushed so hard on this issue.

It's a big victory, well-earned.

##

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Clarence Thomas, Recusal, and Wisconsin

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 31 March 2022
in Wisconsin

clarence-thomas-scotus-justiceWife's involvement leaves no way Clarence Thomas can be a neutral arbiter in any future Jan. 6 cases says Executive Director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.


MADISON - If he doesn’t resign, as Rep. Alexander Ocasio Cortez has properly asked him to, Justice Clarence Thomas at least needs to recuse himself from any cases dealing with the Jan. 6 uprising.

And he sure should have recused himself when he was the lone dissenter in a case earlier this year about the release of Donald Trump’s records relating to Jan. 6.

clarence-thomas-and-wife-virginia-nprBecause Thomas’s wife Ginni not only attended the “Stop the Steal” rally. She also sent a couple dozen text messages to Trump’s chief of staff urging him to do whatever it takes to keep Trump in power. Her texts were part of Trump’s records that were of issue in the case. Thomas had a clear conflict of interest, and he violated judicial ethics by sitting on the case and actually ruling in favor of Trump, thus shielding his wife.

There’s absolutely no way Clarence Thomas can be a neutral arbiter in any future Jan. 6 cases.

Thomas’s flagrant conflict of interest reminds me that here in Wisconsin, we need better recusal rules for judges and justices, too.

This matter has come up several times over the last dozen years. First, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin in 2010 petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to tighten its recusal rules. Instead of doing so, the conservative justices on the court chose to accept a rule, written by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association, which is essentially no rule at all. It says it’s totally up to the judge or justice whether to get off a case or not.

In 2015, in the John Doe II case against Scott Walker, the issue arose again. The special prosecutor was investigating whether Walker had broken the law by coordinating with outside electioneering groups during a campaign. Two of those groups were Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and Wisconsin Club for Growth. The special prosecutor asked two of the justices – David Prosser and a guy named Michael Gableman – to recuse themselves because they had benefitted from vast expenditures by those groups when they were running for office -- to the tune of $1.6 million to help elect Prosser and $2.26 million to help elect Gableman. But neither recused themselves. Instead, they sat on the case, ruled in favor of Walker, fired the special prosecutor, and shut down the investigation.

Then, in 2017, 54 retired judges in Wisconsin urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court again to tighten its recusal rules. The petition states: “As money in elections becomes more predominant, citizens rightfully ask whether justice is for sale. The appearance of partiality that large campaign donations cause strikes at the heart of the judicial function, which depends on the public’s respect for its judgments.”

The conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected this petition, as well. Justice Rebecca Bradley claimed that it was an offense to even imagine that judges could be so corrupted: “ Every judge in Wisconsin should be offended by this. It attacks their integrity and character,” she huffed.

Then-Justice Shirley Abrahamson rebutted this naïve claim: “Due process requires recusal if there is an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Abrahamson noted.

But to no avail.

matt-rothschildSo today in Wisconsin, just as on the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s up to the judge or justice to decide for himself or herself.

And there’s no transparency here, either.

Things are so lax in Wisconsin that that if I’m a lawyer in a case before a judge, I can give a check for $2,000 to that judge’s reelection campaign while he’s sitting on my case, and neither I nor the judge needs to inform the lawyer on the other side.

That’s an invitation to legalized judicial corruption.

And unlike Rebecca Bradley, I wouldn’t be surprised if some judges accept the invitation.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Wis Democracy Campaign - Will DA Ozanne Indict the False Electors?

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 18 February 2022
in Wisconsin

2022-moneyMADISON - We need accountability for the crimes against our democracy.

That means accountability for Donald Trump.

And it means accountability for anyone in Wisconsin who were co-conspirators in the coup attempt.

On Wednesday, our legal allies over at Law Forward asked Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to prosecute the Republican false electors. I write about that here:

Law Forward Asks DA Ozanne to Go After False Electors

On the legal beat, I also wrote about the horrendous decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court late last Friday that infringes on our freedom to vote:

Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Horrible Ruling on Drop Boxes and Ballot Delivery Assistance

And on the campaign finance front, we noted that Republican fundraising for legislative races in Wisconsin is far outpacing that of the Democrats:

GOP Lawmakers Had 4x More Cash Than Dems Entering 2022

matt-rothschildThis is what we do, day in and day out: We track the money, we expose the anti-democracy forces, and we advocate for a broad range of pro-democracy reforms so that everyone can have an equal voice.  

Thanks for supporting us in these efforts.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

P.S. If you’d like to send us a donation, you can do so by clicking here and pay with credit card or PayPal, or the old-fashioned way by sending us a check, made out to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, and mailed to our office at 203 S. Paterson St. Suite 100, Madison WI 53703. We really appreciate it!

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
Tweet With Us:

Share

Copyright © 2023. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com