April 5, 2012
H.L. Mencken defined hypocrisy as “the tribute that vice pays to virtue.” In light of that imperishable truth, we should expect the judicial branch of government to at least pretend not to engage in political partisanship.
But 29 circuit judges signing the Walker recall petition are living proof that much of the judiciary believes it doesn’t owe us even the pretense of neutrality. More evidence appeared last Friday.
Madison-based Federal Judge William Conley ruled that, contrary to the Act 10 collective bargaining reforms, Wisconsin government employers must withhold dues from their employees’ paychecks on behalf of their unions.
How convenient. A 2009 Obama nominee, Conley orders Wisconsin government to resume collecting union dues that finance campaign activity on behalf of Democrats, the Legislature’s action notwithstanding.
We performed the routine search to see if Conley signed the Walker recall petition. A William Conley did, but he appears to be a different person. However, as a Foley and Lardner law partner, now-Judge Conley was a steady contributor to Jim Doyle, Kathleen Falk, and Supreme Court Liberals like Shirley Abrahamson and Louis Butler.
But what really caught our eye was a July 28, 2011 contribution to Sandy Pasch in the 2011 recall election against State Senator Alberta Darling.
Canon V of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges says “A judge should not…(3) solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate…”
Conley’s $100 contribution to Pasch occurred more than 16 months after his confirmation as a federal judge, but his employer is listed as Foley and Lardner, as it was for his many pre-judgeship contributions.
Maybe there’s an error in the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s database. If so, Judge Conley should notify them at once.