Learn before you vote
A Wisconsin Supreme Court election will be held April 7 to fill a 10-year term. Summaries of the candidates’ qualifications and backgrounds demonstrate stark differences for voters to consider.
Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed by Governor Walker in 2016 to complete the term of retiring Justice Prosser. Kelly graduated from private universities associated with churches. He is a member of the conservative Federalist Society. He represented Wisconsin Republicans in a federal trial over the 2010 redrawing of legislative districts. While in private practice, he primarily represented corporations.
Challenger Judge Jill Karofsky graduated from public universities. She prosecuted felonies and misdemeanors as a Dane County deputy district attorney, and as an Assistant Attorney General she was the Violence Against Women resource coordinator. She received awards as an advocate for victims of crime, child abuse and domestic violence. She was elected Dane County Circuit Court Judge in 2017.
One major difference between the candidates is that Karofsky supports adopting recusal rules for justices. The rules would require that justices step down from hearing any case involving a party, whether an individual or corporation, who has given more than a certain amount of money to that justice’s campaign. She understands Wisconsin can’t have justices who are bought and paid for by special interests because it erodes people’s confidence in the judiciary. Kelly argues such ethics rules are unnecessary.
Watch Wisconsin Public Television on Friday, March 27, at 7 p.m., for a Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate debate. — Jeanne Larson, Phillips