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JoAnne Kloppenburg

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JoAnne Kloppenburg
JoAnne Kloppenburg.jpg
Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General
In office
Appointed by Don Hanaway
Personal details
Born September 5, 1953[1] (age 62)
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Jack Kloppenburg
Alma mater Yale University
Princeton University
University of Wisconsin, J.D.
Profession Lawyer, Prosecutor

JoAnne Kloppenburg is the presiding judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV. Kloppenburg is a former Assistant Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin, serving from 1989-2012 under Republican and Democratic Governors.

She unsuccessfully ran for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in April 2011 against incumbent Justice David Prosser. In 2016, Kloppenburg once again unsuccessfully sought a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, this time against incumbent Rebecca Bradley.[2]


Kloppenburg was born JoAnne Fishman to Dr. Elihu Fishman and his wife.[3] She attended high school in Connecticut, and attended Yale University with a scholarship, a year after it began accepting women for study in 1969.[citation needed] She received her B.A. in Russian studies from there, and went to the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University afterwards, originally intending to eventually become an ambassador. Instead, she shifted her focus to third world development, and received her Master of Public Affairs degree in 1976.[4]

Public service and career

After graduation, Kloppenburg joined the Peace Corps and became a rural development planner in Botswana from 1976-1979. She intended to be there for two years, but the government of Botswana asked her to stay for another year afterwards to direct rural development for the entire country.

After returning to the United States, Kloppenburg worked on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children in upstate New York, and was also an assistant dean at Wells College in Aurora, New York at the same time.

Next, she attended law school at the University of Wisconsin, while interning for Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and clerking for U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb. In 1989, Kloppenburg joined the Wisconsin Department of Justice, eventually serving under four different Wisconsin Attorneys General, two of each party. Since 1991, she has been in the environmental protection unit, enforcing the state's environmental laws. She has also taught at the University of Wisconsin Law School since 1990 and is currently a mentor with the Dane County Bar Association, an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor, and a member of her neighborhood association board.[4][5][6]

Wisconsin Supreme Court elections

2011 election

On April 5, 2011, Kloppenburg faced incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, Jr. in an election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as she placed second to Prosser in the February primary. Although the election was ostensibly nonpartisan, the race between Prosser (a Republican) and Kloppenburg (a Democrat) received considerable partisan attention due to the 2011 Wisconsin protests regarding the budget repair bill, which was considered likely to come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as well as several controversies regarding the incumbent.

Both candidates stated their unhappiness regarding the increased partisan aspect of the race.[7][8] Despite that, the race was generally seen as a referendum on the administration of Governor Scott Walker.[4][9] As a result, national groups spent heavily on the race, with about $1.4 million spent by pro-union/Democratic groups and $2.1 million spent by conservative groups.[10]

Kloppenburg described the central themes of her campaign as her independence and impartiality, citing as an example her refusal of special-interest money.[11] She stated, "I have not wavered in my beliefs and will not start if I am elected as a justice. My focus will be on the court without any political bias."[12] This theme was praised by local newspapers, such as the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which agreed that independence is a quality "critical for justices to rule fairly."[13]

By contrast, Prosser described her as an 'unbending ideologue' with 'extreme political and social views' which he did not specify, pointing to her past internship with liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, whom he called an 'activist' and 'total bitch.'[14] In response, Kloppenburg replied, "It's ludicrous to say someone will be the clone of someone they interned for many years ago."[15] Prosser later specified his comments by calling Kloppenburg "way out on the fringe", "a very liberal Democrat who has wandered into supporting Green Party candidates." Kloppenburg's husband had previously supported Ben Manski, a former student of his who was a Green Party candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly.[16] Manski placed second in the election with 31% of the vote, 11% more than the Republican candidate.[17]

At a candidate forum, Prosser asked Kloppenburg to take down a controversial third-party ad attacking Prosser on his decision not to prosecute a sexual abuse case involving a priest and young boys. Kloppenburg responded by stating that the ad wasn't hers, and "Like it or not, third parties have a First Amendment right to run ads of their own choosing."[15][18]

On March 28, anonymous Republican sources said that the race was close to even.[19][20] State officials expected a turnout of around 20%, a typical level of turnout for an April election.[21]

On March 31, Prosser's campaign co-chairman, former Governor Patrick Lucey, a Democrat, resigned from Prosser's campaign and endorsed Kloppenburg, attributing his decision to Prosser's "disturbing distemper and lack of civility", while praising Kloppenburg for showing "promising judicial temperament and good grace, even in the heat of a fierce campaign."[22]

On April 6, after a preliminary count was released stating Kloppenburg held a 204-vote lead over Justice David Prosser,[23] she issued a statement declaring victory and thanking Justice Prosser for his decades of public service.[24] A recount of the votes was described by the Los Angeles Times as "inevitable."[citation needed]

On April 7, re-canvassing began to verify to election results, and errors were found in counties favoring both candidates; Prosser gained votes from Winnebago and Waukesha, while Kloppenburg regained ground from a scattering of other counties including Grant, Portage, Door, Iowa, Rusk, Vernon, and Shawano.[25] However, an April 7 news conference by the Waukesha County Clerk announced that an estimated 14,000 votes had not been counted in Brookfield, Wisconsin because she had made an error while saving data on her personal computer. The addition of the missing votes gave Prosser a commanding lead of more than 7,000 votes.[26]

On April 15, the canvass was completed, showing that Prosser had a lead of 7,316 votes, a margin of 0.488%. Because the margin of victory was less than 0.5%, Kloppenburg was legally entitled to a recount. Following the recount, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, certified Prosser as the winner by a margin of 7,004. On May 31, 2011 Kloppenburg conceded the election.

2016 election

Wisconsin Supreme Court justice N. Patrick Crooks announced on September 16, 2015 that he would not seek re-election to the court in 2016. He died five days later.[27] Governor Walker appointed judge Rebecca Bradley to fill the remainder of his term. Kloppenburg, Bradley and Joe Donald each announced their candidacy for the seat in the 2016 election, with Bradley as the sole Republican and Kloppenburg and Donald as Democrats.

In the February 16 primary, Bradley edged Kloppenburg 44.7%-43.2%, moving the two of them on to the general election. In a repeat of 2011, the race became extremely partisan after the primary, with major focus given to articles Bradley had written in the Marquette University student newspaper in 1992, when she was 21, attacking AIDS patients, drug users, and supporters of abortion on demand.[28] Kloppenburg attacked Bradley's student writings, stating: "There is no statute of limitations on hate. Rebecca Bradley’s comments are as abhorrent and disturbing today as they were in 1992 as people were dying in huge numbers from AIDS.”[29]

In the April 5 election, Kloppenburg lost to Bradley by approximately 53%-47%.[30]

Wisconsin Court of Appeals

In the April 2012 Wisconsin General Election, Kloppenburg was elected to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.[1]

Electoral history

2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court Primary[31]
Candidate Votes Percentage
David Prosser (incumbent) 231,017 55%
JoAnne Kloppenburg 105,002 25%
Marla Stephens 45,256 11%
Joel Winnig 37,831 9%

2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court General
Non-partisan election[32]
Candidate Votes Percentage
David Prosser (incumbent) 750,745 50.24%
Joanne Kloppenburg 743,546 49.76%

2016 Wisconsin Supreme Court Primary[33]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Rebecca Bradley (incumbent) 251,823 44.7%
JoAnne Kloppenburg 243,190 43.2%
Martin Joseph "Joe" Donald 68,373 12.1%

Personal life

JoAnne Kloppenburg is married to Jack Kloppenburg, a fellow graduate of Yale. They joined the Peace Corps together after their marriage.[3] Jack is now a professor at the University of Wisconsin.


  1. ^ a b Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, Wisconsin Court of Appeals
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "American Eating habits weighed and found wanting". Milwaukee Sentinel. July 19, 1976. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  4. ^ a b c Elbow, Steven (March 23, 2011). "Enraged by Walker, activists put Kloppenburg’s Supreme Court campaign on their shoulders". The Capital Times. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  5. ^ "JoAnne Kloppenburg For Wisconsin Supreme Court | VOTE: Tuesday, April 5". Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  6. ^ "For an impartial high court, vote for me". March 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Supreme Court Candidates Unhappy With Partisan Aspect in Race - WTAQ News Talk 97.5FM and 1360AM". March 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  8. ^ "State Supreme Court candidates face off in heated race". Green Bay Press Gazette. March 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Supreme Court race all about union bargaining law". Beloit Daily News. March 28, 2011. 
  10. ^ Judicial Public Financing in Wisconsin — 2011 | Brennan Center for Justice
  11. ^ "Guest column: Imperative to have elections free of big money, impartial justices | Green Bay Press Gazette". February 10, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  12. ^ "Wisconisn Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg points to impartiality". March 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  13. ^ "Editorial: JoAnne Kloppenburg has the best qualifications for Wisconsin Supreme Court | Green Bay Press Gazette". March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  14. ^ Weigel, David (April 1, 2011). "Wisconsin Unions Attack Prosser for Calling a Judge a "Total Bitch"". Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "In Madison debate, Prosser calls Kloppenburg an 'ideologue'". JSOnline. March 25, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  16. ^ "Prosser touts rulings beneficial to county". JSOnline. March 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  17. ^ "Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Wisconsin Green 2010 Legislative Candidate Set Record Going Back 65 Years". Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Wisconsin : Wisconsin News and Photos". Archived from the original on 2011-04-03. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  19. ^ "Weigel : Wisconsin Democrats Try to Take the Supreme Court". March 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  20. ^ Robert Costa (March 28, 2011). "Wisconsin Fight Goes to Court - Robert Costa - National Review Online". Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  21. ^ "20 percent turnout expected for state's April election". Wisconsin State Journal. Associated Press. March 28, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Former Gov. Lucey Leaves Prosser's Campaign, Endorses Kloppenburg - Madison News Story - WISC Madison". Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  23. ^ News from The Associated Press
  24. ^ Kloppenburg declares victory - JSOnline
  25. ^ - vote updates being posted.
  26. ^ Condon, Stephanie (April 8, 2011). "Wisconsin Supreme Court contenders David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg prep for possible recount". CBS News. 
  27. ^ Vielmetti, Bruce (21 September 2015). "Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks dies". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  28. ^ Marley, Patrick (2 March 2016). "Rebecca Bradley in 1992: 'Queers' with AIDS, addicts merit no sympathy". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  29. ^ Beck, Molly (8 March 2016). "Rebecca Bradley apologizes for student columns calling AIDS patients 'degenerates' and gays 'queers'". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  30. ^ Marley, Patrick (6 April 2016). "Rebecca Bradley beats JoAnne Kloppenburg in high court race". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  31. ^ "Spring 2011 Primary Election Results". Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  32. ^ "Spring 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court General Non-partisan election results". Archived from the original on 8 April 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  33. ^ "Spring 2016 Primary Election Results" (PDF). Retrieved 3 April 2016. 

External links