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At a candidate forum a week before the April 5, 2011, Wisconsin Supreme Court election, Justice David Prosser cited an article that PolitiFact Wisconsin did about a claim made by his opponent, assistant state attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Kloppenburg had claimed that Prosser prejudged matters likely to come before the court.
That’s a serious accusation, given that the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judicial candidates from making statements that commit them regarding "cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court."
Prosser correctly stated at the March 29, 2011, forum, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, that Kloppenburg’s campaign provided to us no examples of prejudging to back her claim.
A few minutes later, Kloppenburg responded:
"Well, I’d like to note first that the PolitiFact concluded that the charge that Justice Prosser prejudges matters that come before the court is true."
Sometimes our memories fail us here. But we remember our article about Kloppenburg’s prejudging claim. It was published just two days before the forum was held.
This was our conclusion:
"The statements cited by Kloppenburg indicate Prosser is politically conservative, has views similar to (Gov. Scott Walker) and GOP leaders in the Legislature, and that his re-election would maintain a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. The fact that Prosser disavowed one statement, about his being a ‘complement’ to Walker and other GOP leaders, indicates he had concern about signaling how he might rule on cases.
"But Kloppenburg didn’t accuse Prosser of giving signals. She said he had ‘prejudged matters that are likely to come before the court.’ Yet she could provide no examples.
"We rate Kloppenburg’s claim Barely True."
We asked Kloppenburg’s campaign spokeswoman, Melissa Mulliken, why Kloppenburg said we rated her claim True.
"There’s True and there’s False," Mulliken said. "You rated it True."
Actually, there aren’t two, but rather six possible ratings on the Truth-O-Meter.
Barely True, which is what we concluded about Kloppenburg’s prejudging claim, is a statement that "contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression."
That’s a long way from True, which means a statement "is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing."
At the opposite end of the meter from True is Pants on Fire, for a statement that is ridiculously false.
And Pants on Fire is what Kloppenburg gets for her claim about our earlier ruling.
PolitiFact Wisconsin,"Kloppenburg says Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice has ‘prejudged matters that are likely to come before the court,’" March 27, 2011
Interview, Kloppenburg for Supreme Court spokeswoman Melissa Mulliken, March 31, 2011
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