As reported recently by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley, “State Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet laid into [Judge Michael Screnock] for using ‘all this rhetoric about rule of law garbage’.”
Dallet’s charge — I would call it a gaffe — has become a central issue in the campaign. It was even a subject of the debate between Dallet and Screnock Friday night.
Reporter Marley quoted Dallet as follows: “He’s talking about all this rhetoric about rule of law garbage that is basically — it’s rule of law until it’s something you want changed and then you just go ahead and change it. He’s just saying the same tired old thing that doesn’t mean anything.”
Having denounced Screnock for “rhetoric about rule of law garbage [that] doesn’t mean anything,” Dallet nevertheless felt it necessary to offer an obligatory “I believe in the rule of law.”
If it’s rhetorical garbage that doesn’t mean anything, then what “rule of law” does Dallet believe in? The Journal Sentinel quotes Dallet’s campaign manager, Jessica Lovejoy, as follows: “If they bothered to listen to the whole speech, it’s clear Judge Dallet truly believes in the rule of law — but Michael Screnock doesn’t.” According to reporter Marley, Lovejoy said Dallet’s “rule of law garbage” comment was being taken “out of context.”
I asked Lovejoy to provide the context necessary to understand the “rule of law garbage” remark. She declined to respond.
In the Journal Sentinel story, Dallet seeks to deflect attention from her remark. For example, she says, “When the Legislature gets it wrong and they violate someone’s rights, it’s my job to say no. I am not a rubber stamp of whatever the Legislature does or whatever the governor does.” She thus wrongly implies that Screnock would uphold “whatever the Legislature does or whatever the governor does.” He has said no such thing. To suggest otherwise is to fabricate and advance a straw man narrative.
Act 10 provides a concrete example — real “context” — of Screnock’s view that the Supreme Court’s job is not to substitute its view for that of the Legislature. The left, of course, feels otherwise. Dallet’s campaign aims to tap its fury that the Supreme Court did its job by upholding the law.
In that case, the late Justice Patrick Crooks joined in the 5-2 court decision. Justice Crooks explicitly offered his negative assessment of the bill — on policy grounds — and just as clearly said that view was irrelevant to the Court’s role.