Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Yay Precedent

I read today that recall organizers can collect signatures outside the polling sites for today's Wisconsin Supreme Court election contest. Incumbent David Prosser is locked in a tooth and nail battle to keep his seat after tying himself to the highly unpopular Scott Walker administration (and after calling the chief justice of his own court a "bitch").

Wisconsin law prohibits "electioneering" outside polling places, but the decision was that this did not apply to political work for contests unrelated that day's election. And I read that, and I thought "here comes a controversy". Because while that's a perfectly plausible interpretation, the contrary one would be perfectly plausible too.

But then I read that this decision didn't come today, but rather four years ago, in a totally unrelated matter involving the recall of a Milwaukee alderman. It's just settled precedent that is being cross-applied to the current case. It's nice when precedent works that way -- defusing a potentially explosive controversy because the relevant rule had already been decided in a much more low-profile situation.

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