Federal court rejects Wisconsin legislative candidate's lawsuit over expletive
MADISON, Wis. – A federal court has rejected a lawsuit filed by an independent candidate for the state Assembly in Wisconsin who wants to use a racially charged phrase to describe herself on the ballot.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa said in the order filed Wednesday that Ieshuh Griffin's lawsuit must be dismissed because it was a habeas corpus action and those require the person bringing it to be in custody.
Randa did not rule the merits of the lawsuit. Griffin is fighting a decision by the state Government Accountability Board barring her from using the phrase "NOT the 'whiteman's bitch'" to describe herself on the ballot.
The judge said Griffin's claims should be brought in a civil rights lawsuit.
Griffin on Thursday instead filed a motion to get Randa replaced due to "judicial disability."
"He doesn't have the authority to tell me what to file or when to file," she said.
Griffin said she may file a civil rights lawsuit after the Nov. 2 election if she's not able to get the ballot language approved. In the meantime, she appealed the judge's decision rejecting her habeus corpus action.
"A lot of people are telling me they support my stand," she said.
State law allows independent candidates to have five words describing themselves placed after their names on the ballot as long as it's not pejorative, profane, discriminatory or includes an obscene word or phrase.
Griffin, who is black, argued her case to the five white, retired judges on the board that regulates elections last month saying the phrase she wanted to use was protected free speech.
But the board wouldn't allow it on the ballot, which led to her filing the federal lawsuit in Milwaukee.
The Assembly district she hopes to represent covers the east side of Milwaukee and parts of Glendale. It's currently represented by Democrat Annette Polly Williams, who is retiring. Three Democrats and Griffin are seeking to replace her.