Prosser, in short, has reason to complain, but his protest could hardly be more ironic. For as a state Supreme Court Justice, Prosser had a chance to send a message about a far worse ad, the one by Michael Gableman, when he ran against then-Justice Louis Butler. The ad accused Butler of using a loophole to get a child sex offender out of jail early, thus enabling the man to commit another crime. In fact the criminal served his full sentence and only then committed another crime. This ad, moreover, was not by some shadowy third party, but was run by Gableman’s campaign. Finally, it was ugly in its racial connotation: Gableman sought to link Butler, a black justice, with a black criminal.
Yet Prosser wrote an opinion (joined by two other justices) that argued Gableman did not violate the judicial ethics code when he ran this ad. In essence, he set the ethical bar as low as he could, and now he’s suffering similar (though far less egregious) treatment.
But if Prosser has been put in a box, beset by what he considers an unfair ad, and unable to defend himself without appearing injudicious, well, he might reflect on what happened to Butler. This was a man of integrity and a truly temperate, well-liked justice, who quite possibly lost his bid for reelection because of an outright lie.