Letter calls on state bar to denounce threatening, anti-Semitic attacks on justices

By: - December 22, 2020 1:33 pm
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A letter signed by lawyers throughout the state is calling on the leadership of the State Bar of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Supreme Court to publicly and immediately denounce the “vicious personal attacks” on Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Dallet, Jill Karofsky and Brian Hagedorn.

All three justices were targets of hateful messages from supporters of Donald Trump upset with the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s rejection of a lawsuit seeking to throw out the votes of more than 200,000 voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties. The voicemails and letters were first made public by Progressive Magazine editor Bill Lueders who filed an open records request seeking messages to the justices and published the results in the Progressive and the Examiner.

Karofsky and Dallet have also been the targets of anti-Semitic attacks  published on a pro-Trump blog and in the neo-Nazi publication the Daily Stormer, the Examiner reported.

The letter, signed by 74 members of the Wisconsin Bar as of mid-day Tuesday, concludes “these attacks need to be met with swift and forceful condemnation by the Wisconsin State Bar and the entire judiciary, led by our Chief Justice.  An unanswered threat to one or more Supreme Court Justices is a threat to all members of the judiciary, the Bar, and to the rule of law.”

In response, the State Bar issued a statement denouncing the attacks on Tuesday afternoon. “Sadly, these unconscionable attacks are a reminder that hatred and religious intolerance are alive and well in our society. We, as individuals, elected officials, and a legal community, cannot stay silent when any jurist is attacked or threatened for their work in protecting the rule of law. No one should live in fear for doing their job.”

As of early afternoon on Tuesday, according to Jeff Spitzer Resnick, a Madison attorney and one of the organizers of the campaign, there has been no response from Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack.

“The collective silence of the legal community has been deafening,” said Beth Cox, one of the organizers of the letter, before the campaign began gathering signatures.


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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is the author of "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" which won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel award from The New Press. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.