Wisconsin's April 7th Election

Wisconsin Supreme Court: People vs Privilege

Phil Anderson

American history has been an on-going battle between people and privilege. People have struggled to create a better life for themselves. Privilege has worked to maintain their wealth and control. The candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court represent a clear choice between people and privilege.  

Republicans historically have been the party of privilege. For decades Republicans have opposed, watered down, or under fund EVERYTHING good for people. Case in point: last week Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and four Wisconsin Republican congressmen voted against the bipartisan corona virus recovery bill. They opposed the emergency paid sick leave in the bill even though it was so watered down that only 20% of workers would benefit. Highlighting the contest between people and privilege is not exaggerated political rhetoric. Republicans have consistently put privilege and big money before the well being of people.  

The current corona virus pandemic is just another example of how this plays out in real life. The COVID-19 crisis clearly demonstrates the critical need to have had, in place, the tools needed to deal with the pandemic – most obviously a robust public health infrastructure including universal health care and paid sick leave for everyone. But we do not have a broad based medical, economic, or social infrastructure to handle this pandemic. Our neglect of the common good, in favor of selfishness and profit, is going to kill many people.  

Judge Jill Karofsky is the people's candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court. One proof of this statement is the volunteer activities of the two candidates. When you compare this qualification there is a dramatic contrast between the candidates. Judge Karofsky has a long history of advocating for people by working to stop child abuse, prevent violence against women, stand up for victims of crime. She was the co-chair of the Attorney General’s Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team and head of the Office of Crime Victim Services for the state Department of Justice. She has volunteered with many groups to improve people's lives.  

In sharp contrast Judge Kelly has volunteered for right wing political and legal organizations. Kelly was the head of Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative organization which advocates far right interpretations of law and the U.S. Constitution. He is a past volunteer with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty which brings legal cases pushing voucher schools, voter suppression, opposition to labor unions, “religious freedom” to discriminate against others, and opposing regulation of business. He is a past vice president and general council for the Kern Family Foundation, a private $673 million organization that supports school voucher programs and other conservative causes.  

In past writings Kelly has compared Social Security and Medicare to slavery. He believes these earned-benefit insurance programs are “involuntary servitude” that force people to support the undeserving “who have chosen to retire without sufficient assets to support themselves” (his words). There is no doubt Kelly will support judicial rulings to protect privilege and not people.  

There is a sharp contrast in other qualifications. If you were reviewing resumes to hire a supreme court justice, Judge Karofsky would be the obvious choice. She has the better background and experience. She is a graduate of Duke University and has a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. Her work history includes seven years with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, six years with the state Department of Justice and nine years as general council with the National Conference of Bar Examiners. She was elected to the Dane County Circuit Court in 2017.  

Judge Kelly has never been elected to any position. His law degree is from Regent University, a right wing religious school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. His only experience as a judge is the 3 ½ years on the Supreme Court after being appointed by Scott Walker. Even the conservative Badger Institute describes Kelly as a “relatively unknown lawyer” who made political connections and became the “improbably candidate” for the Supreme Court.  

A judge’s political philosophy, religious beliefs, and experience does influence how they rule on cases involving social issues. It is unrealistic to think they will magically change when elected to the high court. It is obvious that Judge Jill Karofsky will do, within the law, what is good for people. Judge Daniel Kelly will rule in favor of his extreme right wing beliefs. People will be the collateral damage to his religious and legal dogma.  

Which person would you want on the bench if you came before the court?  

Early and Absentee Voting  

The corona virus is changing everyone's activities. People are “sheltering in place,” doing “social distancing,” and taking other precautions. But we can't stop doing necessary activities like VOTING!  

If you are concerned about going to the polling place during the epidemic VOTE EARLY OR get an ABSENTEE BALLOT. Everyone can contact their municipal clerk’s office to vote using these options. Absentee ballot is your best option to ensure that your vote will be counted regardless of what happens in the future. With early voting or absentee ballot you don't have to stand in line with crowds to vote.  

People in NW Wisconsin have a two critical elections on April 7th and May 12th. The first is for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. The second is for the U.S House of Representatives. Skipping these elections will result in two extremist, corporate lap-dogs being elected. This will affect YOUR LIFE for along time into the future. We all need to vote!  

Ballot Initiative On Crime Victims Rights  

There is an amendment to the Wisconsin constitution on the April 7th ballot you may not have heard about. This amendment will expand the rights for victims of crime. This will help people who, through no fault of their own, are forced into a criminal justice system because they have been a victim of a crime. Called Marsy’s Law, this change is being supported by a broad coalition of Wisconsinites including Attorney General Brad Schimel.  

A "YES" vote will support giving victims stronger, more enforceable protections. For more information Google “Marcy's Law for Wisconsin.”