The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 24, 2021 1:00 am

Golden Pen: December

Unprincipled leaders undercutting democracy

One of my sisters, Jean Nilles-Noskowiak, died of COVID-19 on Thanksgiving evening in a Madison, Wisconsin hospital, seven weeks after her 57th birthday.

She contracted the virus from her husband who worked in rural, northeastern Wisconsin and was required to interact with people who did not wear masks, called the virus a hoax and were strong supporters of our lame-duck president. My sister was on a ventilator the last two weeks of her life, but before that she was hospitalized near her hometown of Antigo, Wisconsin.

She went to great lengths to cast an absentee vote in the Nov. 3 election. I have no idea whom she voted for, but I take great offense at my congressional representative, Jim Banks, and my outgoing and incoming attorneys general, Curtis Hill and Todd Rokita, joining a Texas lawsuit to throw out my sister's vote. Her vote was not illegal or fraudulent, nor were the other 3.3 million votes cast in Wisconsin that resulted in President-elect Joe Biden carrying the state by more than 20,000 votes.

Banks, Hill and Rokita know that, even if they did not know my sister or any of the other people who voted in Wisconsin.

A lot of people would call their actions treasonous or seditious. They are, after all, rejecting the Constitution and every element of democracy. All I am doing is calling them out for the moral bankruptcy that puts their cynical calculation of staying in power above country or principle. They should be ashamed and everyone who voted for them should be as well.

Thankfully, the very conservative Supreme Court determined to have none of this unconstitutional sore loser nonsense, but we are still stuck with Banks and Rokita, men without honor, principle or decency. I will remember when they are next up for election and I hope others will as well.

About the author

Terry Nilles of Fort Wayne has been selected as the December Golden Pen Award winner. In the judgment of the editors, his Dec. 31 letter was the month's most effective.

Nilles, 68, describes himself as a “recovering lawyer” who spent his career as a civil trial attorney. Along with his wife, he moved to “very affordable” Fort Wayne from the suburbs of Milwaukee five years ago in anticipation of grandchildren. Their daughter and her physician husband have since obliged with three boys and a girl due in mid-March. Their other daughter has been living with them since July after losing her job in Nashville.

Nilles maintains a part-time law practice, including being active on the board of his condominium association.

As the oldest in a family of 10 children, Nilles wrote his letter when he realized lawmakers “wanted to disregard the last act of my sister” by joining a failed lawsuit to challenge election results in the state where his sister still lived until her COVID-19-related death.

The Green Bay Packers fan will have to wait to see this write-up. Today, he is at the family retreat he built in Wisconsin, spending time with a friend to cheer on his team in the NFC Championship Game.

Nilles received a gold-plated, inscribed pen for his efforts. The Golden Pen Award was established to express our appreciation for the contributions of our letter writers to the editorial page.

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