MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The personal and political lives of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and an embattled state Supreme Court justice have been intertwined for decades, starting with overlapping semesters at Marquette University, where the future justice penned anti-gay writings and threatened to resign from student government over a multicultural course requirement.
Justice Rebecca Bradley’s writings bashing gays, feminism, abortion and political correctness at Marquette University from the early 1990s resurfaced this week, as she is running for a full 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She faces state Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election.
Walker’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said Wednesday that the governor didn’t know about Bradley’s writings before he appointed her to three judicial openings. Bradley said she has never spoken with Walker about them.
Walker and Bradley only overlapped at the private Jesuit school in Milwaukee for a year, a time when they coincidentally both had letters to the editor published in the student newspaper, an Associated Press review of records showed. Bradley’s most controversial writings, including her column calling gay people “queers” and “degenerates,” were published two years after Walker left college.
Bradley, in a forum Wednesday at the Milwaukee Bar Association, apologized for the third time in as many days for her college opinions, saying her views are different today thanks to a “mosaic of life experiences.”
There are other ties from Marquette connecting Bradley and Walker.
The future state Supreme Court justice served as a senator on Marquette’s student government alongside Jim Villa, one of Walker’s longest and most trusted advisers. Villa and Bradley were at a heated student senate meeting in 1991 where Bradley slammed down her nameplate and threatened to resign during a discussion of whether the university should add a multicultural course requirement, according to a student newspaper article.
Villa went on to serve as Walker’s chief of staff for five years when Walker was Milwaukee County executive and as an informal adviser to Walker’s presidential run last year.
Scot Ross, director of One Wisconsin Now, the liberal group that brought to light Bradley’s college writings, said he thinks Villa must have told Walker about Bradley’s political past.
But Villa told AP on Wednesday that he did not. He said he remembered Bradley from college, but they were not close friends.
“I didn’t advise the governor on Rebecca Bradley’s appointments, whatsoever,” Villa said. He also said he didn’t talk with Walker about her college writings.
“Not only did I not speak to him about it, I didn’t remember those writings,” Villa said.
Patrick, Walker’s spokeswoman, said she didn’t know when Walker first met Bradley. But Patrick said they did not meet in college.
Bradley told reporters Wednesday that she can’t remember when she first met Walker.
They’ve been near-neighbors for the past decade. Their homes in Wauwatosa are around the corner from one another, less than half a mile away.
Another column written by Bradley for Marquette’s student magazine in 1992 emerged Wednesday. Bradley argued that writer and critic Camille Paglia “legitimately” suggested that women play a role in date rape. In a collection of essays published that year, Paglia wrote that a girl who gets “dead drunk” at a fraternity party is a fool, and that if she goes upstairs with a fraternity brother she is an idiot.
At the candidate forum Wednesday in Milwaukee, Bradley said, “Any suggestion that I ever said that a woman was to blame for a rape is offensive to me as a woman.”
Bradley didn’t disclose the college writings in the application she submitted to Walker for judicial openings. The application forms asked for academic activities, including extracurricular involvement, and she listed her time as a Marquette University student senator and as editor of the student newspaper at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.
Walker first appointed Bradley to the Milwaukee County circuit court in 2012, then to the state Court of Appeals in May 2015. He named her to the state Supreme Court last October. Bradley donated $250 to Walker’s recall election campaign in 2012.
Bradley has said she applies the law independently and fairly and does not let politics sway her decisions. The race is officially nonpartisan, but conservatives are backing Bradley and liberals are supporting Kloppenburg.
Walker on Tuesday dodged a question about whether he would have appointed Bradley had she disclosed her previous writings.
“It’s really irrelevant,” Walker said, adding, “it’s right now up to the voters.”
Associated Press writer Bryna Godar in Madison and Greg Moore in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
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