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Liberty in Times of Crisis: Justice Weighs In

Empower Wisconsin | March 20, 2020

By Adam Jarchow 

Is Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley trying to send us a message? Since Gov. Tony Evers’ started ramping up his edicts on social distancing earlier this week, Justice Bradley has been quietly sending out one tweet each day. The tweets have a similar theme: In times of crisis or emergency, protecting fundamental liberties is paramount.

To be sure, she doesn’t reference the current situation, or Evers’ shutdown orders. She simply quotes one famous historical thinker each day. Every one of her prior tweets over the past 30 days have been about supporting Justice Dan Kelly’s re-election. So it seems that the timing and contents of her liberty tweets this week are probably no accident.

On Tuesday, the day Evers ordered all bars and restaurants closed, Bradley quoted Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 8.

On Wednesday, she quoted James Madison from Federalist 37.

On Thursday, she quoted liberal Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

To me, her message is pretty clear and pretty convincing. Since the dawn of this Republic, we have jealously guarded our civil liberties — even in the time of crisis or emergency. We have shown in the main for nearly 250 years — through wars, depressions, and even health scares, that we can strike a balance. That we can protect fundamental rights like the rights to property, speech, assembly and worship, without sacrificing health and security. We have, unfortunately, at times traded liberty for security. 

In these times, it’s important that we take the long view of liberty. That we remember what other generations have endured without sacrificing fundamental rights. It is my suspicion that Justice Bradley is rightly concerned that the governor’s orders go too far. Hopefully, Evers will soon lift his draconian edicts. But if he doesn’t, perhaps a group of Patriots will take a case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and we will find out what where all of our justices stand in the balance of liberty and security. 

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