Bradley's anti-gay column drew negative response

Posted at 3:32 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 17:07:58-05

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- An anti-gay column Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote when she was a college student in 1992 drew a torrent of negative responses from fellow Marquette University students at the time.

Bradley's 24-year-old column, which was unearthed this week as she runs for a full 10-year term on the Supreme Court, criticized newly elected president Bill Clinton and referred to homosexuals as "queers," comparing them to "degenerate drug addicts."

An Associated Press review of the Marquette Tribune's archives on Tuesday showed the paper published 15 responses to the column, all but three criticizing it.

Self-professed liberals and conservatives alike called Bradley's opinion piece brainless, bigoted, racist and homophobic. Others likened Bradley's opinions to Nazism, writing "Heil Hitler" and saying she could start her own "Young Nazis" society.

"There is never a need to subscribe to the politics of hate, but Ms. Grassl liberally spiced her article with that odious trash," wrote Sarah Welborne, an arts and sciences major, who called herself a "staunch conservative." Grassl is Bradley's maiden name.

Bradley has apologized twice in as many days since the column and other opinion pieces she wrote were unearthed Monday by the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. Bradley, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Scott Walker in October, largely has the backing of conservatives in the officially non-partisan race. Opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg has the support of liberals.

Bradley said her views began to change almost immediately after her column was published in November 1992.

"I got reaction, as I'm sure people can expect," Bradley said Tuesday on WTMJ radio. "I started to learn right then the effect my words had, my very poorly chosen words had, on people."

An editor's note in The Marquette Tribune in November 1992 said it received more submissions responding to Bradley's column than any other in recent years. The paper stopped publishing responses after 10 days due to space and editorial considerations.

Bradley attended the University of Wisconsin law school from 1993 through the spring of 1996. An Associated Press review of back issues of the Daily Cardinal, one of the university's two campus newspapers, covering that span in both bound copies and microfilm did not reveal any Bradley writings.

The AP attempted to review back issues for the Badger Herald, the other campus newspaper, for that period but UW archivists said they were not available because the issues are archived only as microfilm negatives. An email left for the Badger Herald's editor seeking access to the back issues wasn't immediately returned.