This week marks the beginning of a potentially cataclysmic 2024, with a nominally non-partisan primary in Wisconsin headlined by the race to fill a state Supreme Court seat. The top two vote-getters in this primary will then face off in the state’s general election, and the winner will determine whether right-wing extremists hold the court, or it finally flips. The rights of the state’s citizens and the integrity of the 2024 presidential election hang in the balance.
Daily Kos-endorsed candidate, Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge Janet Protasiewicz, spoke with Vanity Fair last week about the race. “The stakes couldn’t be higher,” she said. “What you really have on the ballot here in the state of Wisconsin is whether common sense, whether impartiality, whether independence is going to win in the end, or whether an activist, extreme partisan court is going to win.”
“I think everybody has got to care about that,” she adds.
Can you donate $10—or maybe $20, even—to Judge Protaseiwicz’s campaign to win back the Wisconsin Supreme Court?
The conservatives on the ballot are just that, extreme partisans. One, former Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly, is trying to claw his way back onto the court with the help of millions in dark money dollars from GOP megadonors Richard and Liz Uihlein, as well as “six figures” from the forced birther Women Speak Out PAC. The other, Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow, doesn’t have that same level of dark money support but definitely has the wing-nut cred to get plenty of independent expenditure help.
Kelly is now under fire for his role in helping push the 2020 election denial that ended up in the Jan. 6 insurrection, and for his continuing work on election issues—he’s been paid $120,000 by the state Republican Party and the Republican National Committee in the last two years. Former state GOP chair Andrew Hitt said in a deposition to the Jan. 6 House Committee that Kelly helped create the state’s fake elector scheme as the party’s “special counsel.” Hitt and Kelly, he swore, had “pretty extensive conversations” about the effort.
“I had brought him on in Wisconsin to kind of help with—he’s from Wisconsin,” Hitt said of Kelly in his testimony. Kelly the former Supreme Court Justice. Advising on how to overturn an election. “I brought him on to kind of advise on election law matters.”
Dorow hasn’t said much about denying elections, but she’s not been at all shy about what she’d do on the court when the state’s 1849 abortion ban comes before the court. She told a conservative radio host that she thought the U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing in the Dobbs decision that overturned abortion rights. “I think it’s really important for Justices to have courage and to be able to look back at prior decisions, especially for U.S. Supreme Court and say our prior decisions got it wrong. And they got it wrong … And so I do agree with the decision of the US Supreme Court.” She and Kelly have a - https://wisconsinrighttolife.org/endorsed-candidates-2/ - joint endorsement - from the extremist Wisconsin Right to Life, which is pushing enforcement of the 19th-century abortion ban in the state.
They’ve both also signaled they’d be happy to reconsider LGBTQ rights if that’s where the U.S. Supreme Court decides to go. Dorow has criticized the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that declared sodomy laws unconstitutional, calling it “judicial activism at its worst.” Kelly has said that marriage equality threatens to “rob the institution of marriage of any discernible meaning.”
Protasiewicz is the one candidate in this that recognizes the threat both of these extremist candidates pose, one of whom she could be facing in the general election after Tuesday. Let’s help her get through this primary and on to victory.