How the Dumbest Liberal in Wisconsin Destroyed His Own Case Against School Choice

It’s bold to call any liberal in Wisconsin the dumbest since there are so many from which to choose, but Dan O’Donnell has a strong contender in the brewery owner/wannabe political player who just sabotaged his own effort to overturn the state’s school choice program.

Nov. 15, 2023
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell

It’s hard to determine who among the radicalized left in Wisconsin is the densest, but Minocqua Brewing Company owner and wannabe political player Kirk Bangstad just might be it.  With one fundraising email this weekend, he didn’t just blow up his entire lawsuit seeking to end the state’s school voucher program; he may have also forever discredited the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s liberal majority.

That’s a rare double play of stupidity, but Bangstad is the Brooks Robinson of big-mouthed liberal ignorance.

Last month, Bangstad’s Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC bankrolled a side-splittingly frivolous action against Wisconsin’s school choice program, which has been in place for more than three decades and which the Supreme Court upheld as legal and constitutional in 1992.

The program hasn’t been challenged in the 31 years since, but Bangstad and the seven buffoons he has serving as plaintiffs believe now is the perfect opportunity for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.  This amazing timing wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that four liberal activists masquerading as jurists now make up its majority now would it?  Of course not says their attorney, Brian Potts (somehow with a straight face).

“We filed directly with the Wisconsin Supreme Court rather than the state circuit court because public school children are being irreparably harmed by these parasitic laws and filing with the circuit court would have delayed resolution of the case by at least another year or two,” he told National Review this week.  “We’re asking the Supreme Court to take the case directly because our clients believe that these unconstitutional laws need to be stricken from the statutes as quickly as possible to protect public school children.”

“We need the Supreme Court to take this case up NOW [because] there’s a real possibility that the uncorrupted Supreme Court majority that we worked so hard achieve by electing Janet Protasiewicz last April won’t be around in 2025 after the next Supreme Court election takes place,” Bangstad wrote.

No, Potts, insists (again, somehow with a straight face), his clients aren’t judge-shopping.  They just really, really need this case decided quickly.  You know, for the children.  Not because liberal justice Ann Walsh Bradley is up for re-election in April, 2025 and the Court could very well flip back to conservative control.  Not at all.  The kids, they just need this ruling right now.

As it explained in Wisconsin Professional Police Association v. Lightbourn, the Wisconsin Supreme Court may take a case through original jurisdiction (that is, a case that is not first brought to a circuit court and then appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals) only in “exceptional cases in which a judgment by the court significantly affects the community at large.”

Fairly obviously, the Court may not grant original jurisdiction because its balance of power might shift and plaintiffs’ ridiculous suit would be laughed out of court by a new majority, but that isn’t why these plaintiffs are asking this majority at this moment to take up this ridiculous suit.  Didn’t you listen to their attorney?

Enter Kirk Bangstad, the densest member of Wisconsin’s radicalized left.  In a fundraising email to supporters this weekend, he admitted that getting a favorable ruling from an activist liberal majority is the only real reason his (lying) attorney is asking for original jurisdiction.

“We need the Supreme Court to take this case up NOW [because] there’s a real possibility that the uncorrupted Supreme Court majority that we worked so hard achieve by electing Janet Protasiewicz last April won’t be around in 2025 after the next Supreme Court election takes place,” he wrote, thoroughly nuking his own case.  “If we take this case slowly, it might not make it to the Supreme Court until 2025, and there’s a 50% chance (like every election in our swing state) that the court will become corrupted again and fall back into the pockets of [former Education Secretary] Betsy Devos’ school choice lobby.”

It’s nearly impossible to simultaneously discredit yourself and the court in front of which you are arguing, but with one email—heck, with one paragraph—Bangstand has done it.  If the Supreme Court’s four liberals take up Bangstad’s case on original jurisdiction, they will be validating his belief that only they would be unscrupulous and overtly political enough to take up case.  Decades-old precedent be damned, if they wait any longer and they might not get the outcome plaintiffs and justices alike desire.

Taking this case, in other words, would prove those four justices to be the shameless hacks many have always presumed them to be.  They would instantly shred their own credibility and reveal themselves to be the most clownish sort of hypocrites.

One of them, Justice Jill Karofsky, just three years ago bemoaned the then-conservative Court taking up original actions.

“Look, in the lame duck case, the Supreme Court couldn’t even wait for the trial court to do its work and have an evidentiary hearing, they just plucked that case the day before Judge Remington in Dane County was supposed to hear it so they could get it up to the Supreme Court and we all know what the result of that case was going to be,” she said during a debate (stridently, of course).

Kirk Bangstad knows what the outcome of this case is going to be should the Supreme Court take it.  Karofsky and three fellow liberals aren’t nearly as dumb as he is, but are they as morally bankrupt?  Will they grant original jurisdiction just so they can destroy school choice when no other rational court in the state would?

Bangstad has put them in an impossible spot and, inasmuch as they possess the capacity to care about judicial ethics, they cannot in good conscience take up his case.