Here we go again.
Yes, it’s time for another Most Important Election Of Our Lifetimes, another Election The Entire Country Will Be Watching, and another Most Expensive Election In State History.
On Tuesday, February 21, Wisconsinites will go to the polls and vote for the candidate they’d like to see become the newest member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The top two vote-getters in this four-candidate primary election will move on and face each other in the April 4 general election. The ultimate winner will be appointed to a 10-year term.
So why is this “super important”? Because the Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently a 4-3 conservative majority, and a typically conservative justice, Justice Patience Roggensack, is retiring. If one of the two liberal candidates wins the whole thing, the court will flip to a 4-3 liberal majority—the first liberal majority in 14 years. If one of the two conservative candidates wins the whole thing, conservatives will maintain their 4-3 majority.
Why is a partisan majority—in a race that’s technically nonpartisan, lol—so important? “For 14 years,” explains the Washington Post, “conservatives have controlled the Wisconsin Supreme Court, issuing decisions that upheld limits on unions, affirmed a voter ID law, expanded gun rights, curbed the powers of the Democratic governor, banned absentee ballot drop boxes and established political districts that ensured Republican dominance in the state legislature.”
So let’s get down and dirty. Below are the four candidates that will appear in the February 21 primary election. Here is the link to the ever-handy MyVote Wisconsin so you can find out how to vote, where to vote, etc. (There may or may not be other races on your ballot; the Supreme Court race is the only statewide race.)
Janet C. Protasiewicz
(liberal, current Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge)
“Our system works because the law is predictable. You can read the constitution, the statutes, and case law, and know what to expect, but as we can see on an almost-daily basis, our most closely-held constitutional rights are under attack by radical right-wing extremists.”
(conservative, lost his previous seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to Jill Karofsky in 2020)
“Justice Daniel Kelly will preserve constitutional rights, uphold the rule of law, and prevent judicial activism. He’s an experienced and trustworthy judicial conservative who will apply the law as it is written, rather than legislate from the bench. His opponents are judicial activists who seek to impose their own political agenda on our state.”
Everett D. Mitchell
(liberal, current Dane County Circuit Court judge)
“During his tenure on the bench, Judge Mitchell has worked with colleagues to change courtroom policies to reflect trauma-informed practices, such as removing restraints and handcuffs on youth during hearings. He joined several judges in petitioning the Wisconsin Supreme Court to support changing the presumption to ensure that children in Wisconsin can attend their court hearings without restraints and handcuffs.”
Jennifer R. Dorow
(conservative, presided over Waukesha Christmas parade trial)
“First and foremost, I am a judicial conservative who will not legislate from the bench. Serving as a Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge for more than 11 years, I have been elected to multiple terms by constituents who depend on me and look to me to uphold constitutional enforcement of our laws, and to recognize the rights and responsibilities of individuals and organizations.”
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