I feel sympathy for Wisconsin judge and state Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Bradley in one respect. I wrote for my high school and college newspapers, and I shudder to think how bad my writing was back then. I have no doubt it was even more naive and simple-minded in my school days than it is now. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then, I’ve grown, I’ve had the benefit of life experiences that have given me a more mature outlook on the world and my place in it than I could have had when I was a student. That said, I never wrote anything hateful or otherwise morally indefensible back in the day.
Bradley, on the other hand, has come under fire because of what she wrote in her youth. She referred to gay people as “queers” and called AIDS victims “degenerates.” She took the position that women share blame for date rape. She equated abortion with slavery and the Holocaust.
She now says she’s sorry and says her worldview has changed. Maybe she is sorry, maybe not. Maybe she’s changed, maybe not. There is one way to know for sure. Here is what Rebecca Bradley needs to do. She needs to point to rulings she has made as a judge that reflect this new worldview of hers. She needs to call attention to legal opinions she has written that show she no longer believes what she wrote while in college.
Her apologies are hollow if the only thing that’s changed is she now uses less inflammatory language. Choosing her words more carefully and expressing her views more delicately only show that life experience has taught her a little tact. It doesn’t show a change of heart. If she’s genuinely changed, her judicial record should reflect that change.