Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates

From left, candidates for election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell, and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz.

Jan. 10, 2023 – At a forum in Madison yesterday, four candidates running for election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court discussed their judicial philosophies and provided other insights on how they would handle the role as a state supreme court justice.

Justice Patience Roggensack, first elected to a 10-year term in 2003 and again in 2013, is not seeking reelection. Four candidates – Daniel Kelly, Everett Mitchell, Janet Protasiewicz, and Jennifer Dorow – are now vying to fill the upcoming vacancy.

The candidates will face off in a primary election on Feb. 21. The top two will move on to the April 4 general election.

Kelly served as a supreme court justice from 2016 to 2020. He was appointed to the bench by former Gov. Scott Walker in 2016 when former Justice David Prosser retired. But he lost the seat in the 2020 election against now-Justice Jill Karofsy.

Mitchell is a circuit court judge in Dane County.
Protasiewicz is a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County, and
Dorow is a circuit court judge in Waukesha County.

In the Wispolitics.com forum at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, the four candidates took questions from WisPolitics Editor JR Ross and CBS58 Capitol reporter Emilee Fannon, as well as questions posed by the public.

A video recording of the forum is available through Wispolitics. In the 90-minute forum, candidates addressed a number of topics and issues through the following questions:

  • Can you point to any ruling you’ve issued, or personal experience with the law that shows you’ll be an independent thinker on the court rather than a reliable vote for one side or the other?

  • 1) Do you believe the court was correct in rejecting requests to set a standard for recusal and 2) Will you hear cases involving the state political parties knowing they will and likely spend against you in this race?

  • What’s the worst ruling you have seen in the last three decades in Wisconsin or U.S. Supreme Court?

  • What ruling has most shaped your judicial philosophy?

  • On redistricting decisions: Was the court correct to require a least change approach and do you believe there are conditions in Wisconsin that meet the requirements to allow race to be considered in drawing political boundaries?

  • On
    District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) (Second Amendment-individual right to bear arms): Would you have sided with the majority or minority in that case and please explain why?

  • Who is your favorite Founding Father and why?

  • How do you plan to protect voting rights?

The State Bar of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sponsored the forum. The State Bar plans to host a candidate debate after the Feb. 21 primary.