Patterico's Pontifications


Lefty Wisconsin Judge Rejects Voter ID Law in Scott Walker Recall Election

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

But that’s not the craziest part. The craziest part is that he made this ruling despite the fact that he signed a petition to recall Scott Walker:

Nearly four months before he signed off on the poorly edited order granting a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter identification law, Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan scribbled his name on another important legal document:

A petition urging the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker signed the voter ID legislation last year and is a defendant in the current case.

“The very fact that Dane County Judge David Flanagan signed a petition to recall Governor Walker calls (Tuesday’s) court proceedings regarding Wisconsin’s voter ID law into question,” said Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks in a statement.

The petition to recall Walker that the good judge signed was being circulated by his wife.

So, I’m a judge in your lawsuit, and I have signed a document trying to have you recalled from office. And I rule that the law passed to protect against voter fraud in your election cannot be enforced.

How do you feel I am acting in that situation? Pretty fair, right?

But, but, it’s not like the judge is just a partisan hack, right? I mean, his ruling is still quality legal scholarship, isn’t it? Replete with careful citations to the applicable laws and sound arguments?

Eh, not so much:

Statehouse staffers spent Tuesday afternoon counting the mistakes in Flanagan’s 11-page order on voter ID.

The most notable is Flanagan’s reference to “Justice William Scalia.” That would be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Several sentences in the decision are garbled.

Flanagan refers to the wrong section of the state Constitution when he says it “sets forth explicitly the requirement for eligibility to vote, Art. I, Sect. 2 (4).”

The article and section cited by Flanagan deals, instead, with the prohibition of slavery. He meant to refer to Article III.

Cullen Werwie, spokesman for the governor, took note of the discrepancies: “Our legal team is still trying to locate Justice William Scalia.”

A person more cynical than I am might say that this is absolute hackery. That it’s abuse of a position to win by any means possible.

And that person would be right.

Why, even William Scalia would agree.


  1. What are the rules for recalling judges in Wisconsin?

    Just an idle question, nothing more . . .


    Comment by Patterico (feda6b) — 3/7/2012 @ 7:25 am

  2. “William Scalia” would be a good nick if any lurker out there is searching for one.

    Comment by Scrutineer (7eb86e) — 3/7/2012 @ 7:25 am

  3. It gets better – not only is this Lawgiver-In-Black up for re-election on the April ballot (unopposed, but that’s a distinction without a difference as unlike the Virginia primaries, write-ins are allowed), but his campaign manager is a long-time operative of the likeliest of the announced Democrat opponents of Walker in a recall election, Kathleen Falk.

    As for a recall possibility, ignoring the fact that this LIB is in Dane County and thus essentially untouchable, it’s the same as any other elected official.

    Comment by steveegg (bde31b) — 3/7/2012 @ 7:39 am

  4. Judges multitask in Wisconsin.

    Comment by daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 3/7/2012 @ 7:53 am

  5. I’m reminded of what Ace first said about Sandra Fluke: Gosh, it’s almost as if leftists will resort to flat out lies to advance their agenda.

    Comment by Ghost (6f9de7) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:12 am

  6. That it’s abuse of a position to win by any means possible

    No, it’s the entirely justified USE of a position to keep the greedy, corrupt, selfish, sexist right wing radicals from screwing up this great country. The left thinks they’re in a war to save the country… and with the stakes as big as they are, there is no room for worrying about silly things like what the other side might think about the tactics you use to advance your goal to beat back the savages (and yes, there are those on the right with the same approach, that it is better to first ensure the win than to handicap yourself by playing by rules that are seen to favor the other side).

    Note the utter inconsistency of their ‘by whatever means necessary’ in fights such as this, yet they tie the hands of our soldiers fighting in real wars. It shows who they think the real enemies are.

    Comment by steve (369bc6) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:32 am

  7. This confrontation is not about Life & Death;
    it is much more important than that!

    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:56 am

  8. As awful as this is, I really cracked up at the Willy Scalia error.

    Comment by Dustin (401f3a) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:10 am

  9. Shortly after being appointed to the Dane County bench by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, Flanagan disclosed in a 2000 state case that he had been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union for about 20 years.

    This is the Tommy Thompson what is running for the senate this year, yes? My understanding is that the Senate plays a rather large role in the confirmation of judges. He should resolve not to be a patsy in future.

    Comment by happyfeet (a55ba0) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:22 am

  10. off topic, but ARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!


    Comment by Colonel Haiku (8c744f) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:31 am

  11. Steve,

    Do you know how one qualifies for the election? My wife has talked about wanting to make a visit back to Wisconsin to see family and friends, it’s been a long time.

    I will campaign on a pledge to have all of my rulings edited and proof-read by competent people prior to publication, lest people around the country think Dane county is filled with a bunch of ilitirite ijiots.

    And I will not sign any petitions concerning Scott Walker’s governorship (I will await a petition to put him in as a presidential candidate!) That last line was sarcasm.

    declaration of campaign and request for contributions awaiting additional information.

    Comment by MD in Philly (3d3f72) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:34 am

  12. Sounds like a judge who believes the old adage, ‘if the law is in your favor, pound the law; if it’s not in your favor, baffle ‘em with bullshit’.

    If the Repubs were smart, they’d get this “judge” hauled before a review commission on an ethics violation.

    [note: released from moderation. --Stashiu]

    Comment by GarandFan (629267) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:38 am

  13. “unlike the Virginia primaries, write-ins are allowed”

    Do I hear a write-in campaign for William Scalia?

    Comment by Captain Obvious (ad8392) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:45 am

  14. Comment by Colonel Haiku — 3/7/2012 @ 9:31 am

    There’s a Shell station on the I-15 at Rasor Rd (SW of Baker CA) that was charging about $5.50 for Premium when we stopped there last week on the way to NV.
    A lot of their business is supplying “race gas” to desert buggies going to the dunes and dry-lakes north of Baker; you don’t even want to ask what the price of that is per gallon.
    But, at Olympic and Fig in Downtown L.A.?
    Guess all those students at SC have Daddy’s credit card, so who cares?
    Or, there’s a lot of ‘bangers who have to fill up their “shorts”, and price doesn’t matter when you’re flush with dope money.

    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:47 am

  15. Americans need to understand we in Wisconsin are pretty damn stupid. We allow Madison liberals to run our state and the yahoos upstate have no media to tell them whats going on. The only common sense people in the state are the collar counties around the craphole city of Milwaukee. We in Wisconsin don’t care about liberty, but only about how much alchohol we consume and da Packers. Politically we are an ignorant state and will surely re-affirm another 4 years of hopey change in November.

    Comment by edward (247a49) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:51 am

  16. Bar complaint.

    Comment by rdbrewer (93f139) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:52 am

  17. A judge who has so many mistakes in his order does not appear to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier. On the other hand, no progressive judge ever got recalled for being dumb.

    Comment by Comanche Voter (0e06a9) — 3/7/2012 @ 9:56 am

  18. Bill Scalia? I think I went to judge school with him…

    Comment by IrateNate (c0bc16) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:07 am

  19. I approve this message

    Comment by william scalia (33f1a0) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:11 am

  20. Huh ?

    Comment by David Flanagan (0ba86c) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:17 am

  21. Walker is polling better now that positive results are rolling in like the inland seas.

    No Worries.

    Comment by gary gulrud (d88477) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:22 am

  22. 14. With the ever so slight caveat that conservatives are outnumbered in MN, WI and IA and need every hand on deck.

    Thanks Cap’n Sh*ttino GOP.

    Comment by gary gulrud (d88477) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:25 am

  23. I am Public Enema No. 1 !

    I endorse this message paid for through the Dept of Redundancy Dept.
    David Flanagan

    Comment by David Flanagan (0ba86c) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:26 am

  24. How did THIS guy get to be a judge?? Holy Crap.

    Comment by Book (5b3f1d) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:46 am

  25. It gets worse:

    “Judge Flanagan also lists Melissa Mulliken, a longtime (adviser) to Kathleen Falk, as his campaign manager on his official campaign web page.”

    Comment by J (9722a4) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:51 am

  26. How did THIS guy get to be a judge?? Holy Crap.

    Comment by Book — 3/7/2012 @ 10:46 am

    Easy. I paid for it.

    Comment by David Flanagan (0ba86c) — 3/7/2012 @ 11:10 am

  27. Just think about the tone of politics if Obama hadn’t been elected?

    Comment by Noodles (3681c4) — 3/7/2012 @ 11:20 am

  28. Side Note: Obama tape coming out tonight. Breitbart says Ben Smith has a copy that has been edited. Imagine that.

    Comment by Noodles (3681c4) — 3/7/2012 @ 11:22 am

  29. How quickly can his ruling be discarded by a higher court?

    Comment by Sarahw (b0e533) — 3/7/2012 @ 12:00 pm

  30. Wasn’t William Scalia one of Hitzlik’s or Greenwald’s alternate personae? It gets hard to keep track of them all…

    Comment by Horologium (ba6e5c) — 3/7/2012 @ 12:01 pm

  31. Comment by MD in Philly — 3/7/2012 @ 9:34 am

    I presume you’re talking about circuit court. The dates on the GAB “checklist” on this page meant for non-partisan candidates (including circuit court judges) are no longer valid as it was written for this election cycle, but it is rather straightforward.

    Of course, if you want to target Flanagan, you would either have to mount a write-in campaign now (which probably will require filing with the GAB) or wait until mid-2013 (I don’t recall exactly when circuit judge terms begin) to launch a recall effort and get 25% of those who voted in the most-recent gubernatorial election (I honestly can’t say whether it would be the 2010 November or the recall; that situation has never come up before) in Dane County to sign, then get 200-400 of those to sign nomination papers in a shortened time frame.

    Comment by steveegg (bde31b) — 3/7/2012 @ 12:24 pm

  32. 28.How quickly can his ruling be discarded by a higher court?

    Comment by Sarahw — 3/7/2012 @ 12:00 pm

    The state, personified by attorney general J.B. Van Hollen, has already announced it will file an appeal of the temporary injunction in time for the April election. Given, thanks to a recent change in state law regarding lawsuits involving the state, the state can choose any district other than the Madison-based 4th (as the Dane County Circuit Court is part of the 4th), he will likely choose the Waukesha-based 2nd District, seen as the most-conservative of the 4 districts.

    The Republican Party of Wisconsin also has filed a judicial ethics complaint against Flanagan.

    Comment by steveegg (bde31b) — 3/7/2012 @ 12:32 pm

  33. Comment by steveegg — 3/7/2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Thanks. I was wondering if one reason he was sloppy is that he just wanted to run out the clock.

    Now it seems his efforts are to the advantage of no one. What an embarrasment to the judiciary.

    Comment by Sarahw (b0e533) — 3/7/2012 @ 12:55 pm

  34. Most judges are corrupt or incompetent, or both. Flanagan is obviously the latter, and an ignorant fool to boot.

    Perhaps the rpublican legislature will vote to have him removed from the bench.

    Comment by woodNfish (1ccdb9) — 3/7/2012 @ 1:07 pm

  35. eh, it’s not Bill or Will Scalia, ’tis Liam Scalia. Rolls off the tongue it does.

    Comment by kimsch (2a7c0d) — 3/7/2012 @ 1:11 pm

  36. That wasn’t Flanagan. It was some imposter. Wisconsin doesn’t check IDs.

    Comment by Amphipolis (b120ce) — 3/7/2012 @ 1:45 pm

  37. Speaking of which – the good judge doesn’t put much stock in correct identification, at the polls or otherwise. William, Antonin, Harry, whatever.

    Comment by Amphipolis (b120ce) — 3/7/2012 @ 1:49 pm

  38. Wonder if he’s any relation to SNL’s Tommy Flanagan the President of Pathological Liars Anonymous. Temporary injunction – “Yeah, that’s the ticket. You betcha!”

    Comment by Jlarsen (002b77) — 3/7/2012 @ 1:54 pm

  39. eh, it’s not Bill or Will Scalia, ’tis Liam Scalia. Rolls off the tongue it does.

    But it is never “Slick Willy Scalia” due to copyright, among other reasons.

    Comment by Kevin M (bf8ad7) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:04 pm

  40. This guy just royally screwed the pooch. Now every person he’s decided against can ask for a retrial on the grounds that “I’m a republican, and that’s why this judge ruled against me.”

    Comment by Ghost (6f9de7) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:07 pm

  41. Confronted by elite of this intellectual calibre, what would the Founding Fathers, who started a revolution over a tea tax, do? Better yet, what would the philosophes who started the French Revolution over this sort of corruption, what would they do?


    Comment by ErisGuy (ad1423) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:15 pm

  42. They would be dealt with under Rule-7.62!

    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:27 pm

  43. The following could not be more off-topic. But it’s very very interesting:

    Massive solar flare ripples sun’s surface; storms speed to Earth. They say there may be unusual auroras visible after midnight and possibly some GPS and electrical grid interference.,0,7646906.story

    Comment by elissa (097996) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:32 pm

  44. Thanks, Steve. deadline was in january for this election. he waited until after the deadline, he was afraid of the competition.

    In the discussion of the linked articla, one person says this:
    In signing a recall petition, Flanagan is in violation of section 60.06 of the State Judicial Code:
    Except for activities concerning his or her own election, a judge shall not be a member of any political party or participate in its affairs, caucuses, promotions, platforms, endorsements, conventions or activities. A judge shall not make or solicit financial or other contributions in support of its causes or publicly endorse or speak on behalf of its candidates or platforms.

    But then others quibble that just because you sign a petition to recall a republican official, it doesn’t mean you are a democrat or any other specific party, so it should not make a difference.

    Althouse has posted a link to the story on a different site, with the commentary “So?”. She later makes a comment that since the voter ID law is supposedly a non-partisan issue that the judges behavior shouldn’t make a difference… But there is more discussion there closer to the issue.

    What does aphrael, our person of liberal leanings with intellectual honesty think about this? (Serious question, not sarc nor snark) It would seem to this non-legal that if Gov. X signs a bill into law, and I want to get rid of Gov. X, I might be generally predisposed against legislation he has been in favor of.

    Comment by MD in Philly (3d3f72) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:35 pm

  45. So where does this leave the case? Do we still need to respect the rule of leftist judges that completely ignore the letter of the law and replace it with their own personal desires? Is it time yet for real civil disobedience on a scale of the Civil Rights fights of the 60s? Where do we stand?

    Comment by NJRob (fc9d0f) — 3/7/2012 @ 2:49 pm

  46. …have throughout History been subjected to serious Eternal consequences.

    If he’s blessed with ANY wisdom, he will recall his verdict, recuse himself, and order another trial…

    Otherwise, he’ll face a Judge with no bias, and nothing but the Blood of Christ will stay that sentence…

    Comment by Judges like this... (dff486) — 3/7/2012 @ 3:00 pm

  47. “Otherwise, he’ll face a Judge with no bias”

    Judge Dredd?

    Comment by daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 3/7/2012 @ 3:25 pm

  48. Since he was confirmed 98/0 by the United States Senate in 1986, Justice Scalia is, of course, the longest tenured member of the current Supreme Court. And it’s not like he’s been a wallflower during the last 25 years.

    Botching “Antonin” with something like “Anthony” is no worse than typing “Ginsberg” for “Ginsburg.” But “William”?

    My guess is that Judge Flanagan was having some sort of brain fart that involved former Chief Justice William Rehnquist — may he continue to rest in peace as he has, I presume and hope, since his death in 2005. Many people, even including some lawyers, tend to conflate or confuse the names of even very famous judges, and that doesn’t necessarily cast doubt upon their mental acuity. But in my experience, if there’s one thing that judges in particular tend to retain in their memories long after other things have faded, it’s the names of other judges.

    So no, this isn’t excusable, it’s just pathetic.

    Comment by Beldar (bdfdef) — 3/7/2012 @ 4:09 pm

  49. “The most notable is Flanagan’s reference to “Justice William Scalia.” That would be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.”

    Hey, a judge got something half right, and you’re complaining???

    It’s not every day that a judge performs that well.

    I’m actually impressed.

    Comment by Dave Surls (46b08c) — 3/7/2012 @ 5:31 pm

  50. If the republicans have any brains or balls (yeah I know very unlikely) they will fight like hell to have this scumbag excuse for a judge removed (or at least plaster his face and his actions all through the public sphere as much as possible). Fact is, sitting judges these days have too much power and little to check them in place when they step out of line. The process and to remove them (or at least censure them) must be fixed for easier public access and the many roadblocks to doing so removed. This will likely not happen till we start reducing government again and that of course WILL NOT happen till we get el obumbler in-chief out of the damn driver seat and send his incompetent enforcer at the Justice Dept. packing. Were looking at inevitable civil war erupting sometime soon if this doesn’t happen.

    Comment by right wing Dovahkiin (eb7bc7) — 3/7/2012 @ 6:23 pm

  51. __________________________________________

    A person more cynical than I am might say that this is absolute hackery.

    But David Flanagan, since he’s a liberal, is a compassionate, tolerant, generous, humane, sophisticated, noble, worldly, kind-hearted, honest person. [Snerk] So his errors are to be forgiven.

    Actually, the lapses of jurists like him, in terms of both ideology and ethics, are a major reason societies become so corrupt, flaky and Banana Republic-ish (if not Third-World-ish).

    Comment by Mark (31bbb6) — 3/7/2012 @ 6:43 pm

  52. We don’t and shouldn’t execute for judicial misconduct. Not only does it set a bad precedent, but this decision didn’t destroy anyone’s lives.

    Comment by Ghost (6f9de7) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:20 pm

  53. This decision, is explicitly designed to permit the abuse of the lawful franchise of voting, it’s yet
    another checkmate, added to tactics like the fake
    attempt to disqualify Prosser,

    Comment by narciso (87e966) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:24 pm

  54. I’m from Wisconsin, and I can say from personal experience that the judge’s contemptible conduct typifies the character of Wisconsin liberals.

    Comment by Excitable Andrew (49d034) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:38 pm

  55. We don’t and shouldn’t execute for judicial misconduct. Not only does it set a bad precedent, but this decision didn’t destroy anyone’s lives.
    Comment by Ghost — 3/7/2012 @ 8:20 pm

    The comment Ghost referred to has been moderated for obvious reasons.

    Comment by Stashiu3 (601b7d) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:48 pm

  56. we should wrap his house though and spork his lawn

    Comment by happyfeet (3c92a1) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:56 pm

  57. The other thread is ‘pining for the fjords’ so consequently this shows the echochamber that leads
    to such decisions,

    Comment by narciso (87e966) — 3/7/2012 @ 8:57 pm

  58. “We don’t and shouldn’t execute for judicial misconduct.”

    I agree. There’s only a limited amount of graveyard space in this country.

    Comment by Dave Surls (46b08c) — 3/7/2012 @ 10:38 pm

  59. And how does any of THIS typical corrupt, big city, democrat liberal, union machine poltics, surprise you?

    Comment by gwhh (84211d) — 3/8/2012 @ 7:01 am

  60. Has anyone specifically asked the judge if it really is his signature on the recall petition? I think we should verify that.

    Comment by Map (1ffd57) — 3/8/2012 @ 12:49 pm

  61. Has anyone specifically asked the judge if it really is his signature on the recall petition? I think we should verify that.

    Comment by Map

    Maurice Flanagan circulated the petition that Judge David Flanagan signed, and confirmed that he did in fact sign it.

    He has every right to sign petitions like that, but he wasn’t impartial. He wants Walker removed. Voter ID depresses the ability to defraud elections, which harms democrat results, so his ruling helped democrats. I guess some would tap dance around it, but that’s what he did.

    Comment by Dustin (401f3a) — 3/8/2012 @ 12:54 pm

  62. Uh, sorry to point this out, but the supposedly “liberal” Judge Flanagan was appointed by Gov. Tommy Thompson, a lifelong Republican who served in Dubya’s cabinet and who is currently running for US Senate on the GOP ticket. Indeed, a former Wisconin Supreme Court Justice — also a Thompson appointee who is now a law professor at Marquette University — described Flanagan’s decision to temporarily enjoin the Voter ID law as well reasoned.

    Second, the Wisconsin GOP was not at all concerned with recusal when it earlier went judge shopping and chose Circuit Judge Mac Davis, a former Republican legislator, to rule on whether the party should get more time to analyze recall petitions. What’s sauce for the goose, my friends.

    Comment by Man MKE (b79f07) — 3/11/2012 @ 2:09 pm

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