Next month, Wisconsin voters will consider who should fill the empty seat on the state Supreme Court. It came to light Monday that one of the candidates to survive last month’s jungle primary, incumbent Justice Rebecca Bradley, once wrote some incredibly toxic comments about the LGBT community and liberals more broadly, as discovered by the group One Wisconsin Now.
Upset by the election of President Bill Clinton, Bradley lashed out in student newspaper columns back in 1992, calling voters “either totally stupid or entirely evil” for supporting him.
She also targeted “queers” and everyone with AIDS, blaming the disease’s victims for their own condition. “Perhaps AIDS Awareness should seek to educate us with their misdirected compassion for the degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior,” she wrote. “But the homosexuals and drug addicts who do essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior deservedly receive none of my sympathy.”
Indeed, she viewed those who had HIV as criminals. “Heterosexual sex is very healthy in a loving marital relationship. Homosexual sex, however, kills,” Bradley wrote. “I will certainly characterize whomever transferred their infected blood a homosexual or drug-addicted degenerate and a murderer.” She objected to Marquette University “attempting to bring legitimacy to an abnormal sexual preference.”
In one column, she also suggested that people were better off getting AIDS than cancer, because research on the disease was supposedly receiving more funding. “How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments.”
Bradley is already serving on the Supreme Court, having been appointed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) to temporarily fill the vacancy. She issued an apology Monday “to those offended by comments I made as a young college student,” explaining that “those comments are not reflective of my worldview… These comments have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state.”
Previously, she declined to state her current position on marriage equality, but according to her campaign spokeswoman, she would be willing to perform a same-sex marriage if she were asked.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the only openly LGBT member of the Senate, called out Walker, who had previously appointed Bradley to two other lower court positions, for ignoring her record of hate. “These hateful and divisive writings raise serious questions about Rebecca Bradley’s fitness to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court as a fair, impartial and independent justice,” she said in a statement Monday.
Walker responded to the controversy by simply saying, “Justice Bradley appropriately made it clear today that a column written in college does not reflect her views as a Supreme Court justice, a Court of Appeals judge, a circuit court judge or as an attorney.” His office claimed that he was not aware of her columns prior to any of the appointments.
Next month’s election pits Bradley head-to-head against State Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg. In last month’s jungle primary, they split the vote 45–43, with 12 percent of the vote going to a third candidate, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald. Donald and Kloppenburg are both liberal, so she has a strong chance to win over his voters.
Kloppenburg told the Wisconsin State Journal that the “comments are as abhorrent and disturbing today as they were in 1992 as people were dying in huge numbers from AIDS.”