The Wisconsin Supreme Court primary is Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know about the 3 candidates.
On Tuesday voters will decide which two candidates will advance in a race that will help dictate the law in Wisconsin for the next 10 years.
Justice Daniel Kelly, Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky and constitutional law professor Ed Fallone are each running for a 10-year seat currently held by Kelly.
Kelly and Karofsky have both accused the other of knowing how they’ll rule before entering the courtroom.
Karofsky frequently mentions her values, including civil rights and rights of women and workers, which have drawn endorsements from left-leaning politicians on state and local levels.
“I have been very open and honest about what my values are,” she said. “But in my courtroom I follow the rule of law, and I can give you many, many examples of when I have ruled against my personal or political interest.”
Karofsky said her kids are worried about gun violence, but
maintains that doesn’t mean she’s made up her mind.
“I believe in the Second Amendment,” Karofsky said. “I believe that people have a right to have guns in this country. However, I also believe that we need to be very, very smart when we are thinking about gun control.”
Meanwhile, Kelly has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. He also posted pictures holding an AR-15.
I believe a justice should honor and apply the entire Bill of Rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. Fun to exercise that right myself last night with friends and supporters in Brookfield. pic.twitter.com/Z4IMvbO2hT
— Justice Daniel Kelly (@JusticeDanKelly) June 19, 2019
Before he was appointed to the court by former Gov. Scott Walker in 2016, filling in the remainder of someone else’s term, he posted his opinions on same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on it, saying, “The same-sex marriage movement, in truth, has never been about rights at all. It has been about using the power of the State to compel others to legitimize the same-sex couples’ personal arrangements.”
He refused to clarify that position to News 3 Now.
“My prior opinions as I’ve expressed them are irrelevant to the job that I do,” Kelly said. “I would tell anyone from (the LGBTQ) community, they come before us, they can be completely confident their case is going to be resolved according to nothing but the law.”
The third candidate, 27-year Marquette University professor Fallone, wants partisanship out of the race and said this election is about restoring neutrality on the court.
“I’m the only candidate who is keeping politics out of this and stressing affirmatively my qualifications as a law professor, experienced lawyer, and the way I can bring consensus to the court,” Fallone said.
If elected, Fallone would be the first Hispanic member of the court and the only person of color. He has picked up endorsements from multiple organizations, including Voces de la Frontera Action and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
A key piece of the debate surrounding the candidates deals with campaign donations.
Karofsky has argued that justices should recuse themselves from cases in which a campaign donor, of a certain amount, is part of the case over which the justice is presiding, but she said her personal recusal policy goes into more areas.
“If I have had a close personal relationship with a lawyer who appears in front of my court, in front of me, I recuse myself from that case,” she said. “Even though I believe I could be fair, I don’t want anyone in the courtroom to feel like they’re not getting justice.”
Kelly disagreed, saying state law has created an upper limit for campaign donations ($20,000). He also said someone donating a large amount versus a small amount doesn’t necessarily mean much to him, especially if he looks at how much the donation means to the person who gave it.
Two candidates will move on from primary on Tuesday. The general election for the Supreme Court is on April 7.
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