Van Hollen won’t run for Supreme Court

AG says he would be ‘astounded' if voter ID overruled
Van Hollen won’t run for Supreme Court
J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he will not run for Supreme Court upon leaving office in two weeks.

“You won’t see me in that race,” Van Hollen said in a final interview in his Capitol office Thursday. “This is an opportunity for me to get out of the public eye and political life for a little while at least.”

The Republican attorney general, first elected in 2006, won’t count out running for office again at some point, although he won’t say for what. But Van Hollen said he was able to accomplish a main tenet of the platform he originally ran on.

“One was to restore integrity to the rule of law and to have a Department of Justice who was a law firm who would defend the laws on the state of Wisconsin and give good objective legal advice despite the public policy or politics behind it,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen said it was a surprise that he had to defend so many laws in the last four years.

“People certainly have the right to have their day in court, but I found certainly a different approach to fighting against public policy changes during the second term than I did during the first term,” Van Hollen said. “But it was something we were willing to tackle.”

His office ultimately argued cases before state and federal courts on Act 10, same-sex marriage and voter ID.

“Voter ID was difficult to defend, but ultimately we have prevailed on every front, even though there’s still, maybe you would call it a ‘hanging chad’ out there at the federal level,” Van Hollen said. “I think most anybody would tell you that the case is done. Voter ID is here to stay.”

The Supreme Court blocked implementation of the voter ID law in early October after it was upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has not indicated whether or not it will take or rule on the case next year.

“Based upon the things that they have done and the rulings at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, I think it is clear they are either going to decline to take the case at all because they agree with what the 7th Circuit did or if they want to tweak it at all they take it and confirm what the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals did,” Van Hollen said. “I would be astounded if they overruled voter ID.”

The Republican district attorney from Waukesha, Brad Schimel, will take the oath of office for attorney general in January.

“I don’t think electing a Republican attorney general to follow me is a validation, but I think electing Brad Schimel was,” Van Hollen said. “Brad Schimel and I are very much alike in many regards — experienced prosecutors, people who believe in the rule of law and defending Wisconsin’s laws whether we agree with them or not.”

Van Hollen said Schimel’s biggest challenges will be continuing to keep up with work at the state crime lab and tackling the state’s heroin epidemic.

“The one piece of advice I gave him, and probably didn’t need to, is there will be a lot of political and media pressure to do things that aren’t necessarily the right things to do under the law or under his philosophy and he should stick to his guns,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen said he plans to find work in the private sector.