The most important election of 2023 is taking place in Wisconsin, The New York Times said Thursday in an editorial. That election is the open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court election, pitting the mild-mannered, liberal-leaning family court Judge Janet Protasiewicz against the Trumpist former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, is by far the most important political contest of the year,” The New York Times said.
There is indeed a lot at stake, the future of our Republic.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court race “could also determine whether the next presidential election is free and fair, shaking up a swing state court that came frighteningly close to overturning the 2020 vote,” the New York Times said.
“Had (Wis. Supreme Court Justice Jill) Karofsky not replaced Kelly, it’s likely that the court would have overturned Wisconsin’s presidential vote, plunging the country into chaos. As it was, the state Supreme Court decided by a single vote to toss out the Trump campaign’s suit seeking to reverse his Wisconsin loss. Even though there was no evidence of fraud, the Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Rebecca Frank Dallet told me, “there were still three people who were willing to throw out people’s ballots.” The New York Times said.
Tearing into the GOP, The New York Times wrote that Wisconsin Republicans have taken control and “That grip has been used to restrict voting rights, pass an anti-union right-to-work law, cut funding to education, dismantle environmental protections and make Wisconsin one of the hardest states in the country in which to cast a ballot.”
“Democrats, on the other hand, are powerless to pass laws of their own. In 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled, 4 to 3, that the state must adopt new, even more gerrymandered maps passed by the legislature,” The New York Times said.
The New York Times pointed out as the Wisconsin Law Journal has previously reported, Kelly will no doubt take a conservative stance.
“Yet there’s little doubt that Kelly, who was appointed to the bench in 2016 by (former Gov. Scott) Walker when another justice retired, will be a reliable vote for the right. That’s why Wisconsin Right to Life has endorsed him and the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List is running ads on his behalf. It’s why a well known MAGA influencer and a hardcore Christian nationalist have been campaigning for him. As a former Republican, (Charlie) Sykes was bombarded with pro-Kelly mailings before the February primary. Two-thirds of them, he said, were about Kelly’s anti-abortion bona fides. (Kelly’s campaign did not respond to a request for an interview.),” The Times wrote noting Kelly’s connection to January 6.
“After Kelly left the (Wisconsin Supreme) court, he was paid by the Wisconsin Republican Party and the Republican National Committee to work on “election integrity.” His name surfaced in Congress’s Jan. 6 investigation, with the former Wisconsin Republican chair Andrew Hitt saying that Kelly had been part of “pretty extensive conversations” on the scheme to create a slate of fake Republican electors who would attempt to cast votes for Trump,” The New York Times said.
The Times also took note of how Republicans responded to Democrats wining both the Gubernatorial and Attorney General races.
“In 2018, a Democrat, Tony Evers, defeated Walker in the governor’s race. Another Democrat, Josh Kaul, won the race for attorney general. Republicans in the Legislature responded by weakening the powers of both offices. Among other things, they passed laws, signed by a lame-duck Walker, giving themselves more authority over key appointments, blocking Evers and Kaul from withdrawing from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act and ensuring that Evers would be unable to get rid of work requirements for some Medicaid recipients,” The Times wrote.
Like the Wisconsin Law Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s coverage, the New York Times looked into Kelly’s recent campaign activities.
“Last week, Kelly campaigned with Matthew Trewhella, a fundamentalist pastor who has defended the murder of abortion providers, and Scott Presler, a right-wing influencer who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “What that tells me is that Kelly has gotten so deep into swimming in that really hard-right cesspool, that I’m not sure he’s really reaching out to the swing voters,” said (Charlie) Sykes,” The New York Times said.
The Times editorial also mentioned the high dollar amounts invested in the race and how much is at stake.
“With so much riding on the outcome, the contest has turned extraordinarily ugly. During the primary election that whittled the field to Kelly and Protasiewicz, the right-wing radio host Dan O’Donnell boasted of his readiness to play dirty. “I can do dirty tricks too,” O’Donnell said, suggesting he’d put out ads claiming that Protasiewicz opposed abortion. He added: “We can fool them. We can trick them.” In a Twitter group chat about plans for anti-Protasiewicz disinformation, later leaked online, one right-wing troll wrote, “I could doctor a couple videos or articles about how she said the N-word or something.”
“In what may or may not be a coincidence, earlier this month a conservative website, Wisconsin Right Now, published (similar) allegations, ” the Times wrote.
Recently, Wisconsin Law Journal reported that both The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal have published opinion pieces of their own about the April 4 election.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial said, “Dan Kelly’s role in conspiracy to overturn 2020 election makes him unfit to serve on Wisconsin Supreme Court.”
“I believe we all have a patriotic and moral obligation to vote against candidates who have helped this conspiracy along, even if we are not fully comfortable with their opponent or would not vote for them otherwise. Kelly helped this conspiracy along, working to overturn the 2020 Presidential election. That is not “conservative,” and it is not American. Kelly is unfit to serve on our highest court. I hope you join me in voting for Janet Protasiewicz on April 4,” the Journal Sentinel editorial stated.
Wisconsin State Journal’s opinion column noted that of the 32 published Kelly opinions when he was previously on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 21 drew at least one dissenting opinion, several stemmed from fellow conservative justices.
“Kelly’s opinions draw dissents not just because of ideological or political differences, but because of the poorly reasoned and irresponsible nature of his judging,” the editorial said.
“Kelly’s colleagues on the state Supreme Court pinpoint basic judicial errors, such as misreading simple language in a statute, ignoring straightforward statutory interpretations in favor of tortured ones, and misapplying judicial precedent,” the editorial added.
Five dissents stemmed from fellow conservative Justice Patience Roggensack, the column states.
Polls will be open in Wisconsin on April 4 from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.