Why we vote in the elections

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In November, citizens get to decide if the attorney general should stay or go.

WISCONSIN'S ATTORNEY GENERAL Brad Schimel is a conservative Republican. He hasn't exactly kept that a secret.

Schimel, who faces a re-election challenge in November from Democrat Josh Kaul, is under fire for accepting around $4,000 last year to speak at a religious liberty event in California for an outfit called the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent left-leaning civil rights advocacy group, classifies ADF as an extremist group allegedly supporting bias against gays because a "homosexual agenda" undermines Christian values.

Schimel rejects that description, saying ADF is a respected "alliance of Catholics and evangelicals, getting together to focus on issues about how we build better love in the world."

ADF HAS BACKED a Colorado lawsuit arguing a bakery owner should have the right to refuse service for a same-sex wedding on the grounds of his personal religious beliefs. The group also was involved in drafting a Mississippi law allowing both government workers and businesses, citing religious freedoms, to refuse services to LGBT customers.

Schimel explains that this way: "Your liberty and freedom ends at the tip of someone else's nose," an echo of a famous Ronald Reagan quote.

So who is right? Did Schimel transgress? Or is he exercising his own free speech rights?

That's why we hold elections, to allow each individual voter to make that decision based on one's individual values and political views. It's to be hoped politicians, in the lead-up to elections, will make clear their views on issues so voters can base their ballots on how that lines up with their own principles. To his credit, Schimel has not ducked and dodged but rather has staked out the ground on which he stands.

IT'S NEVER EASY when Americans believe they have rights and the high ground, while other Americans disagree and think the Constitution and high ground is on their side. With incredible vision, the Founders created the third branch of government - the courts - to sort out competing constitutional questions.

On the political side, voters do that. Schimel has the right to his viewpoint. Likewise, so do his critics.

Settle it at the ballot box in November.

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