Fact-checking the Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley (left) is being challenged in the April 5, 2016 Supreme Court race by state Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg. (Michael McLoone photo)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley (left) is being challenged in the April 5, 2016 Supreme Court race by state Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg. (Michael McLoone photo)

The April 5, 2016 race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court has been marked by statements about the pasts of the two candidates.

Here’s a look at claims by and about Rebecca Bradley, an appointed justice who is making her first run for Supreme Court, and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, a state Court of Appeals judge who is making her second run for the high court.

Bradley says her representation of an ex-boyfriend "who was then my friend" in a family law case is "something that lawyers do on a regular basis."

Our rating: False.

We found no evidence of that.

Four of five longtime family law lawyers told us such representation is not done regularly -- they had never seen a lawyer represent a former boyfriend in a contested family law case. The other expert said he could recall cases similar to Bradley’s, but couldn’t say whether they occurred on a regular basis.

Kloppenburg says the GOP is "helping pay for" Bradley's campaign and "she recently skipped court to attend an event paid for" by Scott Walker's "lobbyist friends."  

Our rating: Mostly True.

The state and county Republican parties have given cash and in-kind contributions to Bradley's campaign. She didn't entirely skip court one day, but did leave oral arguments the Supreme Court was hearing early in order to speak at a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce event. WMC, the state's largest business lobby, is a major supporter of Walker.

Bradley says JoAnne Kloppenburg "has told us she thinks it's her job to promote a more equal society."

Our rating: Mostly True.

Kloppenburg has said that, but she also says more. Kloppenburg declares that her judicial philosophy is to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and that in her view, the fundamental principles of the Constitution are to "protect individual rights and promote a more equal society."

Wisconsin Alliance for Reform says Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg agreed to use a technicality to give a convicted sex offender a new hearing because "he didn’t understand the charge."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Kloppenburg agreed with two other appeals court judges in ordering that the sex offender get a hearing. They did not rule, however, that the offender didn’t understand the charge he had pleaded guilty to. Rather, they ruled there should be hearing on the fundamental question of whether he did understand what he had pled to.

JoAnne Kloppenburg says that in the primary election, a "right-wing group spent more than $100,000,000 to support" Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley.

Our rating: False.

The correct figure was $1 million, with the Kloppenburg campaign attributing its error to a typo.