New Marquette Lawyer Spotlights People Raising Their Voices to Seek Just Outcomes

Marquette Lawyer Cover with Wylie AitkenAll his life, Wylie Aitken has loved the performing arts. He wanted to make it on the stage, in movies, or in concert halls. He also wanted to advocate for people who were not getting fair deals in some important ways. As a young man, he realized the best path for him was to focus on the latter while drawing on his talents for the former. In the 1960s, he took his dreams from Southern California to Marquette Law School, where he developed skills essential to success as a lawyer. Returning home, he then launched a long and successful career performing, as he puts it, for audiences of 12, namely, members of juries. Aitken has won cases against giants such as Disneyland and the auto industry on behalf of what he calls “the little guys.” And beyond his legal practice in Orange County, California, he and his wife, Bette, have been influential in building up the performing arts, supporting Democratic politicians, and boosting the quality and vitality of education institutions. That includes generosity they have shown for years to Marquette Law School and Marquette University.

The Summer 2024 issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine features a profile of the colorful Aitken, who credits Marquette Law School with playing an important part in his success. The article, titled “Winning Performance,” may be read by clicking here.

Beyond the specifics of Aitken’s success lies a theme of the good that can come from developing talents and abilities, working hard, and raising your voice in pursuit of making things better. Those are themes reflected in several other pieces in the new magazine.

In “Army of Survivors,” Professors Paul G. Cassell of the University of Utah and Edna Erez of the University of Illinois Chicago assess the importance of victim impact statements given by 168 women who were victimized by Larry Nassar, once the team doctor for USA Gymnastics. The women who testified at Nassar’s sentencing proceeding showed great courage in raising their voices in court (in nationally televised sessions) in pursuit of making sure that not only Nassar but many who enabled him were held accountable and that the general public had increased knowledge of the evils of sexual assault. Cassell and Erez analyze different aspects of the impact the women’s statements had and conclude that giving victims the opportunity to raise  their voices has great value. The article is based on the Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law the two professors gave at Marquette Law School. It may be read by clicking here.

Professor Margo Bagley of Emory University raises her voice on behalf of bringing more women and underrepresented minorities into the world of inventing and patenting. In “Deploying Our Secret Weapon,” Bagley spells out specifics on how few women and minorities have become involved in such work in the past. She makes the case that bringing more of them into such work not only is right but can improve economic growth and America’s global standing. The article is based on Bagley’s Nies Lecture on Intellectual Property at Marquette Law School. It can be read by clicking here.

Voices have been raised in many varied—and passionate—ways in advocating for what corporations could and should do to involve themselves in the improving their communities or the nation as a whole. Is the only real obligation of a corporation to pursue profits for owners and shareholders? Or are there broader role businesses should play? And what is the law around permitted use of corporate resources? Professor Ann M. Lipton of Tulane University analyzes the complex issues involved in such debate in “Of Chameleons and ESG,” an article based on her Boden Lecture at Marquette Law School. The article may be read by clicking here.

Veteran Milwaukee journalist Tom Kertscher was visiting his father in West Bend, Wisconsin, when a police officer arrived to give him a ticket for not making a full stop at an intersection several blocks away. A doorbell video from a resident led to the ticket—and led to Kertscher’s raising his voice about the extensive amount of surveillance of this kind. It is generally legal when done by private individuals, he found. Kertscher’s tale, interweaving his unsuccessful effort in court to be given a warning and not a ticket together with broader context about the legality of such surveillance evidence, can be read by clicking here.

The Burdens of All: A Social History of American Tort Law, a book by Joseph A. Ranney, the Adrian P. Schoone Fellow at Marquette Law School, was featured in the Summer 2022 Marquette Lawyer. The book prompted Professor Cristina Tilley of the University of Iowa to raise her voice, as part of a Marquette Law School conference, in reacting to Ranney’s perspective. She praises his research—and calls on him to continue and expand it. Her essay, “All-American Tort Law, may be read by clicking here.

In his column, titled “In Celebration of Progress and Continuity,” Dean Joseph D. Kearney reflects on nine 100-year-old tables that were moved in 2010 from Marquette Law School’s long-time home, Sensenbrenner Hall, to Eckstein Hall—and, more generally, on how the Law School benefits from both tradition and change. His column may be read by clicking here.

Finally: the Class Notes describe recent accomplishments of more than 30 Marquette lawyers and may be read by clicking here, and the back cover (here) offers a recent snapshot showing the strong record of Marquette Law School graduates moving into good legal careers.

The full magazine may be read by clicking here for the PDF or here for the “interactive” version.

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Lubar Center Programs Put the Positives—and Some of the Needs—of Milwaukee in the Spotlight

Good and positive things about Milwaukee, making those things better, and, in some cases, keeping them from getting worse. That sums up three recent programs of the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education at Marquette Law School. Let’s catch up by offering brief summaries of each of the programs, each of which was moderated by Derek Mosley, director of the Lubar Center. 

Get to Know: Cecelia Gore, executive director of the Brewers Community Foundation, February 13, 2024

Cecelia Gore is a well-known figure in Milwaukee’s philanthropic community. She was program director of the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation from 2001 to 2009. Since 2009, she has been executive director of the Brewers Community Foundation, the charitable arm of Milwaukee’s major league baseball team. In that role, she has overseen the raising and distribution of millions of dollars to support efforts such as education programs, home construction for low-income people, and sports programs for youths.

Each baseball season, she talks to every player on the Brewers about donating part of his salary to the Brewers Foundation—and, she told Mosley during the program in Marquette Law School’s Lubar Center, 100% of the players take part (which is not true of all major league teams). She also instituted the “50-50 raffle” at Brewers home games, which allows fans to buy tickets. Half of the proceeds go to the holder of the winning ticket at each game and half go to the foundation. Since 2010, the raffles have raised more than $50 million—so more than $25 million has gone to Milwaukee nonprofit causes.

Gore has also been involved in many other local philanthropic efforts. She was co-chair of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s “Greater Together Initiative,” which recently announced it has raised $700 million to be used to increase opportunity and equity on multiple fronts for low-income people in the Milwaukee area.

Gore is an optimist about the future of Milwaukee. Solving problems will take a lot of hard work. But, she said, “The community is filled with people who want to make a difference. . . . We all have the opportunity to do as much as we can.”

In all her time working for the Brewers at American Family Field, Mosley asked, has Gore ever gone down the slide Bernie Brewer uses when a Brewers player hits a home run? “I’ve done it once, and I’ll probably never do it again,” she said.   

Watch the conversation with Gore by clicking here.


Get to Know: Peggy Williams-Smith, president/CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, January 30, 2024

Peggy Williams-Smith has had a lifelong education in what’s good about Milwaukee, and she’s a positive, eager saleswoman for telling as much of the world about Milwaukee as she and her organization can reach. A Milwaukee-area native whose path has included a lot of jobs, from Walgreen’s when she was young to 13 years working for Marcus Corporation hotels and resorts. She has headed VISIT Milwaukee, the tourism and economic development organization, since 2019.

Williams-Smith’s conversation with Mosley covered a literal and figurative waterfront of developments in Milwaukee tourism, almost all of them positive. The literal waterfront involves the rapid growth of Milwaukee in recent years as a stopping point for cruise ships on the Great Lakes. The figurative waterfront includes successful promotion campaigns, praise of Milwaukee as a tourist destination from several national publications, the coming Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, and the major expansion of the Baird Center, Milwaukee’s convention center. VISIT Milwaukee was involved in bringing more than 500 events to Milwaukee, involving more than $800 million in business.  

“There’s no better place to be in the world than the summer in Milwaukee,” Williams-Smith said. One thing that means is she and her staff of about 40 are doing more to promote Milwaukee tourism the rest of the year, including in the winter.

The conversation with Williams-Smith may be viewed by clicking here.


On the Issues: Museums and Arts Funding in Wisconsin, January 19, 2024

Wisconsin’s ranking in state funding of arts and culture programs? Fiftieth and last, said Rob Henken, president of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, a nonprofit research organization. Wisconsin’s support of arts and culture efforts from the private sector, including individuals and businesses? No exact ranking, but it’s been pretty strong, speakers at a forum on the subject at Marquette Law School’s Lubar Center said. Put the two together and you have an important part of life in Wisconsin that is doing OK, but facing many serious issues.

In addition to Henken, six leaders of museums and arts organizations spoke at the program. “Museums shape communities,” said Ellen Censky, president/CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum. But the museum, with 550,000 visitors a year, is a big and vivid example of both the positives and negatives of the museum scene. The public museum is making progress with building a replacement building, on the north side of downtown, that will launch it into a new and, supporters believe, exciting future. But the process of getting there has faced numerous challenges. And Censky told Mosley that one thing that she worries about is whether a major crisis will occur involving the current deteriorating building before the new building is ready.

Laurie Winters, executive director/CEO of the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, described how that museum went from 2,900 visitors in 2012 to 225,000 in 2023, thanks to a beautiful new facility and expanded programming. But everything that is improving the museum and arts picture for Milwaukee and Wisconsin “is happening in spite of” and not because of governmental help, she said.

Adam Braatz, executive director of the nonprofit Imagine MKE, said, “The reality is the entire sector is on the precipice of a cliff.” Things could get worse without more support, he said.

Also taking part in the discussion were Clayborn Benson, executive director of Wisconsin Black Historical Society; Polly Morris, executive director of the Lynden Sculpture Garden; and Marcela Garcia, executive director of the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts.

The discussion may be watched by clicking here.       

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Disapproval, discontent, and uncertainty: Marquette expert observers describe 2024 election dynamics

On the one hand, “a year is forever in politics,” so don’t panic about where you think the party and candidates you favor are standing this far from the November 2024 national election.

On the other hand, there is a strong prospect of an unprecedented presidential election between Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump in a time of great discontent around politics, and standard understandings of political dynamics may not apply.

And some of the things going on politics – such as former Trump Cabinet members becoming opponents and critics of Trump – are not easy to explain.

So the outlook for the 2024 election for president is complex, fascinating, and uncertain, in the view of three nationally respected political observers, each with ties to Marquette University, who took part in an “On the Issues” program Nov. 29, 2023, in the Lubar Center of Marquette Law School.

The three statements at the start of this blog post summarize thoughts from, respectively, Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll; Craig Gilbert, a fellow at the Marquette Law School Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education; and Marquette Professor Julia Azari, a political scientist who is quoted frequently in national discussions on politics.   

“A Trump-Biden matchup would be so unprecedented,” said Gilbert, formerly the Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. An incumbent president against a former president is not the only reason for saying that. The ages of the candidates, especially widely held perceptions of Biden being too old, and the large negative ratings of both candidates are also factors.

“We live in an era of chronic disapproval and discontent,” Gilbert said. “Everybody ‘s unpopular and everybody’s unhappy. Who’s happy?”

Franklin said a good reason to pay attention to poll results at this point – and the Marquette Law School Poll released both national and Wisconsin results recently – is not to predict how elections a year from now will turn out. It is to see how races are shaping up and, in the long run, to be able to understand more about the course that leads to final outcomes.

The race for the Republican nomination is dominated now by Trump, Franklin said, but Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations while Trump was president, does better than Trump in head-to-head match-ups against Biden. Franklin said Republican voters are split, with about 70% having favorable opinions of Trump and 30% having unfavorable opinions. Even if Haley looks strong against Biden, overcoming Trump within the Republican race will be a big challenge for her. “You’ve got to get the nomination to become the nominee,” Franklin said.

Azari said that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was positioning himself as “Trump-plus” and Haley as “Trump-light” in appealing to voters, while former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was running as the anti-Trump. Support for DeSantis has been slipping, Christie is not gaining momentum, and Haley has become the alternative to Trump getting the most attention among Republicans.

Gilbert said about 20% of voters are “double haters,” with negative opinions of both Trump and Biden. They could become important in shaping the race, as could voters who have a somewhat negative opinion of Biden but who might vote for him in a match against Trump.

Looking to Wisconsin, Gilbert said voting patterns in the state have changed significantly in the past couple decades. The “WOW counties” — Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties, adjacent to Milwaukee County – were long-time Republican bastions, but Republican margins have grown smaller in recent elections. Some rural parts of Wisconsin used to be more “purple,” with Democrats sometimes doing well, but have become increasingly “red” and supportive of Trump. And Dane County, including Madison, has continued to gain population and increase in its power as a  Democratic bastion. “It’s a different map” than it was 20 or 20 years ago when it comes to analyzing Wisconsin voting, he said.

Azari said Trump continues to appeal to “low-propensity voters” who are less likely to vote usually but are more likely to turn out for Trump. Many of them are in more rural parts of Wisconsin.

Franklin said that how much Trump voters will mobilize in 2024 is likely to be an important part of determining the election outcome.

Derek Mosley, director of the Lubar Center and moderator of the program, asked the three what had made Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, such a strong candidate for re-election in Wisconsin in 2024. Azari said Baldwin “has avoided becoming a national lightening rod” for conservatives. Gilbert said that in her Senate victories in 2012 and 2018, Baldwin did better in Republican-oriented parts of the state than other Democrats. Losing some areas by smaller than expected margins should not be underestimated as a valuable part of winning Wisconsin as a whole, he said. And Franklin said that, even though no major Republican candidate for Senate has joined the race so far, it is not too late for that to happen and the Wisconsin race could still heat up.   

The conversation may be viewed by clicking below.

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