Venturing Into Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s Mind


I am truly at a loss as how to rationalize the actions by Wisconsin’s Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen  when it comes to the issue of appealing a federal judge’s ruling that our state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

First, let me state the obvious.

This blog is loaded with issues that have two sides.  Some are policy driven such as how electoral districts should be drawn or how best to fund our transportation system.  Some issues on CP are highly controversial such as how best to stop gun violence.  But even with the most divisive matters there is always some way to at least see the other side’s perspective, even if it is only a glimmer.

But when it comes to the overall thrust for appealing the federal judge’s ruling and now the latest procedural tactic that Van Hollen has undertaken leaves me unable, in any fashion, to understand his thinking or why his actions have merit in his own mind as he proceeds forward.

The latest ploy by our attorney general concerns fighting over how many federal judges should hear the appeal.

Both Wisconsin and Indiana are having their state cases heard in mid-August.  The gay couples fighting the cases filed briefs early this week stressing they feel a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is how the proceedings should be conducted, as would be customary.  Van Hollen and his counterpart in Indiana want the full 10-member court to hear the cases.

I find it telling that Van Hollen knows the odds are so against him with a selection of any three of the judges that he hopes somehow to have a better hand with all ten hearing the cases.  Instead of trying to find better odds Van Hollen might try to find a more constructive use of his time on the taxpayer’s dime.

The fact of the matter is there is not one–NOT ONE– logical argument for continuing the ban, or fighting for its continuation.  As has been shown in other states there is also not some written code of conduct that requires an attorney general to carry water for every half-baked idea that has been proven to have defects and harmful consequences, as the 2006 Wisconsin amendment has demonstrated.

There is no sense to wasting taxpayer dollars or the court’s time to conduct what seems to be a water-carrying exercise for a politician who is intent on keeping his conservative bona fides in case they are needed for some future campaign.  If fighting this battle is required from the right-wing so to prove something than perhaps Van Hollen needs to respond that it is a price too high to pay for the sake of his credibility and sense of decency.

But perhaps I am making Van Hollen out to be a bigger man than he really is.

Perhaps Van Hollen has already crossed his ethical and moral Rubicon and now feels there is no way to step backwards.   If that is so then all should be sad.  After all, history can ask who is proud concerning the last person who legally defended a whites only water fountain.  There is no pride about such things, only regret.

I noted on the local news Wednesday night that in the latest Marquette Law School poll 56% of Wisconsinites agree with my neighbors that they would vote to repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage.   So one has to ask can Van Hollen really be proud of the banner he is now carrying?

One thought on “Venturing Into Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s Mind

  1. It is a wonder tha JB Van Hollen graduated from law school, where logic is required, at least early on. Argumentation, twisting, and deflection are all components of second and third year classes.

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