Libertarian Party Judicial Questionnaire
On January 4 of this year all candidates were mailed and emailed ten questions put together by members of the Communications and Bylaws Committees. The questions asked are ones we think all judges will be able to express their opinion on. Candidates may respond to as many questions as they want. Responses were requested by February 13. Judge Dorow was the only one to respond as of February 16th. We welcome the other candidates to submit their answers any time before the election.
The popular press has labeled these judicial candidates as conservative or liberal; labels that tell libertarians nothing, as neither gives any indication of whether a candidate is an authoritarian, a big or small government proponent, or adverse to personal rights including reproductive freedoms. Election Day is April 4, 2023. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes on February 21 will proceed to the final election. The Libertarian Party of Wisconsin has not endorsed any candidate as of February 16th.
Brief Description of Questions:
Questions one and two are the questions all Libertarian candidates are asked. They are there to gauge a candidate’s understanding that all problems facing America today do not have government solutions, that the government does not have unlimited powers, and that its reach should be keep in check.
Here are the Ten Questions
1) What three problems facing America today have no government solutions?
2) What three issues facing America today should government (the legislature) stay away from.
3) Sometimes courts are asked to legislate. They don’t always oblige. When they do what factors are most important to consider.
4) Are there any laws in this state that you know of that obviously need repealing?
5) Do you have any thoughts on criminal justice reform such as mandatory minimums sentencing or criminal history expungement?
6) Do you believe that a constitution is a “living” document; one that ought to be reinterpreted through the lens of modern day standards?
7) What are your thoughts on originalism, and how much should the original intent of a law’s author be weighed when interpreting a law?
8) What are your thoughts on judicial activism. Should a judge weigh morality or policy when rendering a legal decision?
9) Which current United States Supreme Court Justice do you admire the most, and why?
10) Describe a time where you personally witnessed the judicial system fail, and what could have been done to correct the failure?
Judge Jennifer Dorow’s Responses:
Q: Do you believe that a constitution is a ‘living’ document; one that ought to be reinterpreted through the lens of modern day standards?
A: The constitution is not a living document. It is an enduring document. It is to be interpreted according to the meaning that it bore at the time that the text was enacted.
Q: What are your thoughts on originalism, and how much should the original intent of a law’s author be weighed when interpreting a law?
A: Originalism is my judicial philosophy, because I believe it is correct. It is the original public meaning that governs interpretation. The original intent is not what gets enacted into law. Consulting original intent can be helpful, but ultimately it is the words and their public meaning that matter most.
Q: What are your thoughts on judicial activism? Should a judge weigh morality or policy when rendering a legal decision?
A: I think U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts described the job a judge very well when he compared sitting on the bench to an umpire at a baseball game. It is a judge’s job to apply the rules – not make them. We call balls and strikes; we don’t swing a bat or throw a pitch. A judge should not legislate from the bench or weigh morality or policy when making decisions.
Q: Which current United States Supreme Court Justices do you admire the most, and why?
A: I admire many of them, including Chief Justice Ziegler and Justice Roggensack, but my closest match is probably Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Barrett is a principled originalist and textualist. She is also practical and understands the need for the Court to adopt clear rules and write clear opinions.
Q: Describe a time where you personally witnessed the judicial system fail, and what could have been done to correct the failure?
A: Although I did not personally witness this failure, there is no doubt that the majority decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), failed the people of the United States when it upheld segregation laws and created the “separate but equal” doctrine. I would like to think that if I had been a justice on the court at that time, I would have joined Justice Harlan in his courageous dissent, which concluded that segregation was unlawful racial discrimination.