- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley on Monday apologized for anti-gay opinion pieces she wrote as a college student 24 years ago where she referred to homosexuals as “queers” and “degenerates.”

Bradley, who faces state Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election for a 10-year term on the state’s highest court, said what she wrote as a student at Marquette University does not reflect her worldview or current work as a judge.

The writings were revealed Monday by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now.

Gov. Scott Walker said he was not aware of the writings at the time he appointed her to the Supreme Court in October, or to the Milwaukee County circuit court and state appeals court prior to that.

In her writings from 1992, Bradley compares homosexuals with drug addicts, saying they “essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior.” She wrote that people were better off getting AIDS than cancer because those with the “politically correct disease” would benefit from more funding.

“How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments,” Bradley wrote.

She describes newly elected president Bill Clinton as “queer-loving” and says his 1992 victory “proves that the majority of voters are either totally stupid or entirely evil.” Bradley also describes homosexuality as “an abnormal sexual preference” and says those who support it are “dumb” and “degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior.”

Bradley, who is 44 now and was 20 and 21 when the pieces in question were written for the Marquette Tribune, backed away from the comments Monday.

“I was writing as a very young student, upset about the outcome of that presidential election and I am frankly embarrassed at the content and tone of what I wrote those many years ago,” Bradley said in a statement.

One column was written after Clinton’s election, but two letters to the editor from Bradley speaking out against homosexuals and the spread of AIDS were written nine months earlier, in February 1992.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” Bradley said. “These comments have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state.”

Her opponent, Kloppenburg, blasted Bradley over the writings.

“There is no statute of limitations on hate,” Kloppenburg said. “Rebecca Bradley’s comments are as abhorrent and disturbing today as they were in 1992 as people were dying in huge numbers from AIDS.”

And U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin Democrat and first openly gay senator to serve in the Senate, released a statement calling Bradley’s comments “hate speech.”

One Wisconsin Now called on Bradley to resign, which her campaign manager Luke Martz rejected as “absurd.”

One Wisconsin Now director Scott Ross also criticized Bradley for not disclosing, when applying for three judicial appointments with Walker, that she had been a columnist for the Marquette student newspaper.

Walker said in a statement that “Justice Bradley appropriately made it clear today that a column written in college does not reflect her views as a Supreme Court Justice, a court of appeals judge, a circuit court judge or as an attorney.”

Bradley tried to downplay the release of her college writings as “a blatant mudslinging campaign to distract the people from the issues at hand. This election is about diametrically opposed judicial philosophies.”

Bradley is generally supported by conservatives, while Kloppenburg has the backing of liberals. The election is officially nonpartisan.

A shadowy conservative group Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, which does not disclose its donors, will begin running a television ad statewide Tuesday attacking Kloppenburg over a ruling from last year. She and two other state appeals court judges allowed a man convicted of child sex assault to get a hearing to withdraw his guilty plea. The hearing was held, but his request was denied.

The ad buy is for $770,000, based on data One Wisconsin Now said it collected from television stations. The conservative group previously spent $1 million on an ad supporting Bradley.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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