Dear Editor: I support Rhonda Lanford for Dane County judge. She is rated as an outstanding attorney and has practiced in Wisconsin courts for 16 years. She is running against Rebecca St. John, whom Gov. Scott Walker appointed in August 2012.
St. John’s judicial philosophy includes extreme deference by the judiciary to the more political branches. For example, in her judicial application, she cites the case James W. Smith, in which the applicable statute decreed that anyone convicted of false imprisonment of a minor must register as a sex offender. Smith was convicted, but objected to the registration requirement because he imprisoned someone to collect a debt, not for sexual reasons. Rather than striking down the statute, the Supreme Court upheld it, thus forcing him to register. Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley disagreed and said that the majority failed to protect Smith against legislative arbitrariness.
St. John admires the court’s deference to the Legislature. She says in effect that statutes can’t be perfect and that the Legislature was rational in lumping all false imprisoners into one category (sexual offender). Fairness to Smith be damned. She forsakes the courts’ role as protector of the powerless for an ideology of legislative supremacy.
St. John’s application contains her descriptions of two other cases in which she reveals her extreme deference to the legislative branch. Lanford is a progressive and as such likely would invoke the courts’ inherent power to check legislative overreach and prevent manifestly unfair results as reached in the Smith case.
Lawrence J. Landwehr