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    Letters to the Editor

    David SimonPatricia Ballman

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 5, May 2003


    Letters to the editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer publishes as many letters in each issue as space permits. Please limit letters to 500 words; letters may be edited for length and clarity. Letters should address the issues, and not be a personal attack on others. Letters endorsing political candidates cannot be accepted. Please mail letters to "Letters to the Editor," Wisconsin Lawyer, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, fax them to (608) 257-4343, or email them to org wislawyer wisbar wisbar wislawyer org.

    Bar should refrain from political disputes

    I write in response to Pat Ballman's March 2003 "President's Message," in which she suggests that the recent events surrounding the Board of Governors' decision not to file an amicus brief in the University of Michigan affirmative action case show that Bar members' opinions really do influence the decisions of the Board of Governors on political matters. Significantly, though, as Ms. Ballman reported in a Feb. 13, 2003, email to the Board of Governors, six of the 14 members of the Executive Committee voted to join the amicus brief in support of the University of Michigan's policy in the face of strong opposition by 68 percent of the responding members. (Neither the email nor Ms. Ballman's "President's Message" reveals how many Executive Committee members voted "no.") One can imagine what the result would have been had a mere majority of responding members expressed strong opposition to having the State Bar of Wisconsin take a position on a controversial issue such as this.

    Ms. Ballman's recommendation to those who disagree with the political views of the Board of Governors is to "get involved" - presumably to impose their own views on other Bar members who do not share their politics.

    There is another option: the State Bar of Wisconsin, in which lawyer membership is mandatory, can stay out of political disputes.

    David W. Simon

    The State Bar of Wisconsin was not created to avoid controversial issues, but rather was created by the supreme court to fulfill the purposes set forth in the Supreme Court Rules, some of which, such as "law reform," are controversial by their nature. Proponents of joining an amicus in the University of Michigan Law School case believed that was consistent with the purpose "... to assist or support legal education programs at the preadmission level ..." (See SCR 10.02(2)). Members may disagree on appropriate ways to carry out the purposes set forth in the Supreme Court Rules, but the rules do not limit the Bar's purposes to nonpolitical or noncontroversial issues.

    Patricia K. Ballman
    President, State Bar of Wisconsin

    Correction to history timeline

    Wisconsin became a state in 1848, not in 1846, as was incorrectly noted on the timeline in the April 2003 article, "Coming Together - The State Bar's First 125 Years." We regret the error, which we discovered too late in the printing process to fix.

    Wisconsin Lawyer editors