Sometimes the right-wing judicial activism of the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority is too extreme even for conservatives.
That was the case on Monday, when Justice Brian Hagedorn broke with his fellow conservatives to keep the November ballot as it was designed and printed. That means that more than one million absentee ballots that Wisconsin voters requested will be sent to them by Thursday — as is required by state law.
Hagedorn’s decision to side with the three liberals who make up the court’s logical wing — Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky — put an end to an effort by the Green Party to secure a spot on Wisconsin’s presidential ballot. The Greens gathered enough signatures to qualify for that spot, but a dispute over how the address of vice presidential candidate Angela Walker appeared on the petitions deadlocked in the Wisconsin Election Commission.
Had the Greens appealed immediately, they might have had a case. But, as Hagedorn and the liberal justices noted in the majority decision, the Greens waited for weeks to appeal to the high court.
"Even if we would ultimately determine that the petitioners’ claims are meritorious, given their delay in asserting their rights, we would be unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election,” they explained.
That was the only rational response to a challenging circumstance.
If the court had ordered the Greens to be listed, millions of already-printed ballots would have had to be trashed. New ballots would have had to be printed, the deadline for mailing requested absentee ballots would definitely have been missed and the deadline for mailing ballots to Wisconsinites serving in the military would have probably been missed. In addition to costing taxpayers millions of dollars, the chaos would have threatened prospects for a free and fair election.
Justice Hagedorn's decision to err on the side of sanity leads us to entertain the prospect that responsible conservatives are not extinct. However, we shall reserve judgement on the high court until Hagedorn displays a clear pattern of rationality.
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