Metro Weekly

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice under fire for past anti-gay writings

In 1992, Rebecca Bradley called gays "queers" and said AIDS victims "basically commit suicide through their behavior"

Bradley (Photo via Justice Rebecca Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court).

Bradley (Photo via Justice Rebecca Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court).

A candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice is apologizing for remarks she made more than two decades ago in which she called gays “queers,” and said she had no sympathy for AIDS patients because they “basically commit suicide through their behavior.” Interim Justice Rebecca Bradley, nee Grassi, also wrote in a column that Americans were “either totally stupid or entirely evil” for electing President Bill Clinton to office. 

The comments, taken from a column and two letters to the editor that Bradley penned for The Marquette Tribune in 1992, were unearthed earlier this week by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now at a Monday morning news conference, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Both One Wisconsin Now and People for the American Way have called on Bradley to resign from office.

In a statement, Bradley said she was embarrassed about the pieces she wrote as a young college student, saying she had been upset about Clinton’s victory in 1992. She also apologized for the comments she made and said that they were “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,” Bradley said. 

Bradley, who was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) in October to the seven-member Wisconsin Supreme Court to finish the term of Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who had died three weeks prior. Bradley was previously appointed to the bench two other times by Walker. Because Wisconsin elects its state Supreme Court justices, Bradley must run for a full 1o-year term in an April 5 election. Her opponent, Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, has seized upon Bradley’s past writings as a campaign issue, calling those past statements “abhorrent and disturbing.”

“Her career since [writing for the student newspaper] includes being appointed three times to three judgeships in three years by Scott Walker, who is against gay rights,” Kloppenburg said in a statement. “Rebecca Bradley’s alliance with conservative causes and Scott Walker speaks louder than any apology she tries to make.”

Some of Bradley’s past statements from the first three pieces of writing unearthed by One Wisconsin Now include other anti-gay language or sentiments. Among them:

  • “How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments.”
  • “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.”

In other columns that subsequently came to light, Bradley compared abortion to both the Holocaust and slavery, decried political correctness when debating whether to keep Marquette’s Warriors mascot, and wrote that Camille Paglia had legitimately suggested that women play a role in date rape.

In an interview on WTMJ radio, Bradley again apologized and insisted her views on gays have changed, noting that she has presided over adoption cases involving gay couples who provided loving homes.

“I have become a much better person than I was back then,” Bradley said while defending herself. “It’s ridiculous to suggest that people cannot change in the course of a quarter-century.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com