Last year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appointed Rebecca Bradley to temporarily fill a Supreme Court role vacated by deceased Justice N. Patrick Crooks; she is currently running for the full ten-year appointment.
The three student newspaper columns that OWN released included comments like the following:
■ “Perhaps AIDS Awareness should seek to educate us with their misdirected compassion for the degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior.”
■ “But the homosexuals and drug addicts who do essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior deservedly receive none of my sympathy.”
■ “We’ve just had an election (in 1992) which proves the majority of voters are either totally stupid or entirely evil.”
■ “This brings me to my next point — why is a student government on a Catholic campus attempting to bring legitimacy to an abnormal sexual preference?”
■ “Heterosexual sex is very healthy in a loving martial relationship. Homosexual sex, however, kills.”
■ “I will certainly characterize whomever transferred their infected blood a homosexual or drug-addicted degenerate and a murderer.”
She also referred to gay people as “queers” while mocking efforts to assist AIDS patients:
“One will be better off contracting AIDS than developing cancer, because those afflicted with the politically-correct disease will be getting all of the funding,” Bradley wrote in the November column about Clinton’s election. “How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments.”
When the comments came to light, Bradley responded by disavowing who she was all those years ago:
“I was writing as a very young student, upset about the outcome of that presidential election and I am frankly embarrassed at the content and tone of what I wrote those many years ago,” Bradley said in a statement. “To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview. These comments have 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.”
Our state’s elected “representatives” — I live there, too — introduced a bathroom bill targeting transgender students just late last year. Our governor fought to ban marriage equality before the SCOTUS ruling. It’s legal here to discriminate in employment decisions based on someone’s gender identity.
LGBT rights and equality are most certainly issues facing Wisconsinites — not least of all because our conservative governor and legislature seem intent on chipping away at them piece by piece. So, yes, these comments absolutely pertain to relevant issues of the day.
Now, it is true that these writings were from the 90s. They’re over two decades old. The fact that Bradley held objectionable — abhorrent — views back then doesn’t mean she still has to hold them. Being part of the “formerly fundamentalist” community and coming from a religious, ultra-conservative family myself, I realize that you can be raised to believe untrue, awful, and inhumane things. I also know that you don’t suddenly just wake up when you turn 18 and realize that it’s all false; when that happens, it’s often a process, sometimes a long process. I don’t hold that against anyone. As long as — and this is the crucial part — you really move past those ideas. And that seems to be the missing piece here.
Bradley is a strong social conservative with no history of advocating for or supporting equality. (She’s also lost none of the a-factual, judgmental moral superiority she exercised in those earlier writings, publicly and contemptuously suggesting in 2006, for instance, that women who use birth control are guilty of murder.) And, when asked, she has refused to answer questions about her support for or opposition to marriage equality. When her current silence on equality, her prior attacks on the gay community, and her dishonest response to objections are taken in conjunction with her other socially conservative views, there’s frankly not much evidence to suggest that Bradley has “evolved” on the issue.
She may have, but if so it’s been an extraordinarily silent process for a public figure, with no outward evidence to support it. Bradley isn’t just a citizen; she is in a position of substantial trust and power, so this isn’t a private matter. The fact that there’s no way to know how much, if at all, her views have turned around is more than a little concerning, considering the extreme vitriol she either harbored or harbors toward LGBT people — and how little even their lives mean(t) to her.
Considering the position Scott Walker has put her in, this is deeply concerning. And the way that she dismisses valid questions about these abhorrent views, as if they’re not “real” issues,” is downright scary.
(Image via Facebook)