This week's newsletter is much longer than usual. My apologies for that. Feel free to quit reading any time! I just came across so much juicy and important news this week that I simply could not resist highlighting the stories.
I want to begin with a reminder that the spring, nonpartisan election is happening NOW in your municipal clerk's office (or at several libraries throughout the City of Milwaukee for city residents' convenience) until the close of business at 5pm on Friday, April 1. Grassroots North Shore has put up a fairly comprehensive page for the 2022 Elections. The pages include
- school board races,
- municipal races,
- judges in Milwaukee County,
- judges running for the Appeals Court District 2,
- Milwaukee County Supervisor District 1,
- and early in-person voting information.
On the pages for races, we have separated contested races from uncontested ones. We also produced and posted responses to a questionnaire that was sent to candidates in contested races. For each candidate, you will find links to their websites, Facebook pages, and/or Twitter accounts. While we cannot endorse in every race — we often do not have enough information or a request from a candidate's campaign — we have endorsed three: Liz Sumner for Milwaukee County Supervisor, Judge Lori Kornblum for Appeals Court District 2 (for Ozaukee County voters), and Judge Hannah Dugan for Milwaukee Circuit Court Branch 31.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has put together a great set of resources for voters, including everything you need to know about how to get registered, how to fill out and return your absentee ballot, or what you’ll need to bring with you to vote early in person or on election day. The party also provides a Voter Assistance Hotline at (608) 336-3232. This information is especially helpful for first time voters. Please pass it along to anyone who could use the information.
Now for some bad news. Complicating the start of the partisan elections, the US Supreme Court has sent the legislative district maps approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court back to the state court for more analysis to determine whether the Voting Rights Act requires the creation of a seventh majority-minority district in Milwaukee. What will happen next is unclear. Prospective candidates supposedly can begin circulating nomination papers on April 15, less than three weeks from now. But for those contemplating running for Assembly and state Senate Districts, at least in the Milwaukee area but possibly in a wider area of the state, it won't be possible to do until district lines are drawn and approved. You can view the opinion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the order from the Supreme Court of the United States.
The case has garnered substantial media commentary in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Daily Kos for three excellent examples. Perhaps the best analysis comes from Professor Rick Hasan on his Election Law Blog: "[T]he way this case was handled is quite bizarre and is another signal of a conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court showing increasing hostility to section 2 of the Voting Rights Act." He ends his initial take this way:
And the good, better and best news? Although the war in Ukraine has dominated the news of late, some important domestic news has broken through. Chief among them, the revelation that Ginni Thomas — wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — "wanted President Trump to take extreme measures to stay in office in the days following the 2020 election" (Vox, March 25, 2022). The newly released text messages between Ginni Thomas and then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows date from just after the 2020 election and insist that the election results be overturned.
The publication of these message has stirred up a hornet's nest of backlash, even among conservative scholars, with some even calling for an impeachment proceeding to expose Justice Thomas' bias or, as some suggest, his corruption. The texts reveal Ginni Thomas as an avid conspiracy monger with a deep, Christian nationalist point of view. If you have not heard much about this matter, let me recommend a piece at Politico published just a few days after the story originally broke. Especially interesting is the section titled "Legal experts say Thomas’ texts present a real problem for the Supreme Court." Even if you're up-to-date on the whole story, this piece is worth a read. Also worth a read, Jane Mayer's piece in the New Yorker: "Legal Scholars Are Shocked By Ginni Thomas’s 'Stop the Steal' Texts."
In an interesting — possibly hilarious — turn of events, the previous guy (that's DJT in case you forgot) has filed a lawsuit against Hilary Clinton and others alleging that SHE conspired to rig the 2016 election. Reuters had the initial story, including this tasty paragraph:
Philip Bump at the Washington Post has followed up with an in-depth analysis showing how "Trump accidentally proves that the Clinton campaign wasn’t the driving force of the Russia probe." The key is this paragraph:
I saved the most intriguing news for last. A federal district court judge ruled that the former President Trump probably broke the law when he "likely attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress" on January 6, 2021. The ruling does not convict Trump of a crime, of course. It comes as the culmination of a suit filed by lawyer John Eastman — the architect of a "legal theory" that Vice President Pence could in effect overturn the certified results of the 2020 election. The judge's conclusion undergirds his ruling in Eastman's effort to conceal his emails from the Jan. 6 committee on the grounds of lawyer-client privilege. The government has argued that the privilege is not valid if the communication furthered a crime. Hence, the ruling that Trump and Eastman were engaged in criminal activity. Here's the opening of the story as NBC News first reported it Monday.
Eastman's lawyer said that he intends to comply with the order. Although the ruling is part of a civil case in which the government did not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were committed, the judge nevertheless wrote that "both Trump and Eastman likely knew what they were doing was wrongful." The government had argued that Trump and Eastman had "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States." Judge Carter seems to have agreed.tten. More information and registration.
Tuesday, March 29
Voting Rights Town Hall, 12pm - 1pm
McGovern Park Senior Center, 4500 W Custer Ave, Milwaukee and on Zoom
Sponsored by the League of Progressive Seniors, the program will be moderated by NAACP President Clarence P. Nicolas. Register to attend by Zoom.
Gerrymandering Trends, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
A Princeton scholar will talk about national trends in gerrymandering and redistricting, including what is happening in Wisconsin. Registration (required).
Cavalier Johnson Meet & Greet, 6:00 – 7:30pm
Flores Hall, 2997 S. 20th St., Milwaukee
Join Chairman Ben Wikler and other WisDems members at the Mayor Cavalier Johnson Meet and Greet! Masks are required and will be provided if forgotten. More information and registration.
Wednesday, March 30
Public Perception of the Supreme Court, 11:00am – 12:00pm
Dr. Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, will discuss the public’s perception of the U.S. Supreme Court as its decisions and makeup take center stage in U.S. public life. Registration.
When Is a Debt to Society Paid? 6:00 – 7:30pm
This webinar on corrections and when a debt to society is paid will feature formerly incarcerated people, faith leaders, community members, corrections employees, victim advocates, and legislators. Registration.
Friday, April 1
Driving While Black Film, 6:30 – 7:30pm
Driving While Black is a documentary that explores how race has impacted mobility across American history. Watch it on PBS any time before April 1 at 6:30pm, then join a discussion of the history and patterns of injustice detailed in the film. Register for the discussion.
Saturday, April 2
Spring General Get Out the Vote Ozaukee County, 9am - 3pm
Fiddleheads Coffee Cedarburg,W62N605 Washington Ave, Cedarburg
Help us get out the vote in Ozaukee County for the April 5 election! We'll talk to voters in the community about the great candidates running for office and why these elections matter. After you sign up for the event, you'll get an email from me with more details. Please bring a mask. See you there!.
Stand for Peace, 12:00 – 1:00pm
Brady Street & Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee
Stand for Peace has resumed in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. This event also will advocate for freeing Julian Assange. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.
Sunday, April 3
Get Out the Vote Ozaukee County, 12pm - 3pm
Fiddleheads Coffee Cedarburg,W62N605 Washington Ave, Cedarburg
Help us get out the vote in Ozaukee County for the April 5 election! We'll talk to voters in the community about the great candidates running for office and why these elections matter. After you sign up for the event, you'll get an email from me with more details. Please bring a mask. See you there!
Monday, April 4
MLK Read-in of Riverside Speech, 7:00 – 8:00pm
Clergy and people of faith across Wisconsin will gather on Zoom to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s powerful and prescient “Beyond Vietnam’ speech with a virtual Read-In. More information and registration.
Tuesday, April 5
Get Out the Vote Ozaukee County, 9am - 5pm
Fiddleheads Coffee Cedarburg,W62N605 Washington Ave, Cedarburg Help us get out the vote in Ozaukee County for the April 5 election! We'll talk to voters in the community about the great candidates running for office and why these elections matter. After you sign up for the event, you'll get an email from me with more details. Please bring a mask. See you there!
Spring Election, 7:00am – 8:00pm
Your Polling Place
Spring election for local offices such as mayors, city and county boards, school boards, and county judges. These are important and should never be skipped! Be a voter!! Find your polling location at MyVote.WI.gov.
Wednesday, April 6
Living Liberally Waukesha, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Club 400, 322 Williams St., Waukesha
Living Liberally Waukesha meets on the first Wednesday of the month, in the upstairs bar at Club 400. All attendees should be vaccinated and wear masks when not eating or drinking.
Saturday, April 9
Stand for Peace, 12:00 – 1:00pm
51st Street & Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee
Stand for Peace has resumed in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. Theme for this week: Stop using our tax money for war and nuclear weapons. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.