Antigay writings take center stage in Wisconsin court race

Supreme court justice candidates JoAnne Kloppenburg, left, and Rebecca Bradley shake hands after appearing at Milwaukee Bar Association forum on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Milwaukee. The two candidates made statements, and took questions from the audience and moderator.

Supreme court justice candidates JoAnne Kloppenburg, left, and Rebecca Bradley shake hands after appearing at Milwaukee Bar Association forum on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Milwaukee. The two candidates made statements, and took questions from the audience and moderator. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP

MADISON, Wis. — A tight Wisconsin Supreme Court race erupted this week when a liberal advocacy group brought to light 1992 opinion pieces that Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote as a Marquette University student in which she expressed strong views on topics including homosexuality, AIDS, abortion and date rape.

Bradley was appointed to the state’s highest court by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in October and is running against state Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg for a full 10-year term on the high court.

Bradley has repeated apologized for some of the things she wrote in those college newspaper columns, saying her views have changed over the nearly quarter-century since. It remains to be seen what effect, if any, her old writings will have on the outcome of the officially non-partisan race with less than a month to go before the April 5 election.

Here are the details of some of what Bradley wrote:

ON AIDS AND HOMOSEXUALITY

In a column and letters to the editor, Bradley referred to homosexuals as “queers” and “degenerates” and wrote that homosexual and drug addicted AIDS victims “basically commit suicide through their behavior” and deservedly don’t receive her sympathy.

Bradley has apologized repeatedly and says her views are different today thanks to a “mosaic of life experiences.” She said the comments “having nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state.” She also said she would officiate a gay wedding, if she was asked by a family member or friend.

ON DATE RAPE

In another column attacking feminism, Bradley wrote that writer and critic Camille Paglia “legitimately suggested that women play a role in date rape.” In a collection of essays published in 1992, 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’s an idiot.

“Feminists call this ‘blaming the victim.’ I call it common sense,” Paglia wrote.

Bradley said Wednesday any suggestion that she said a woman was to blame for a rape is offensive to her as a woman.

ON ABORTION

Bradley’s campaign declined to comment directly on an anti-abortion column, because a spokeswoman said the issue could come before the state Supreme Court. In that column, Bradley argues life begins at conception and that it’s “incomprehensible” that people could argue that they have “a right to murder their own flesh and blood.”

“Our society is turning a blind eye to this holocaust of our children, largely for the sake of the convenience, or perhaps the financial concerns of the women who choose abortion,” Bradley wrote.

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