Wisconsin Supreme Court election forum; 4 candidates

Four declared Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates for the 2023 spring primary appeared at a WisPolitics forum in Madison on Monday, Jan. 9.  

The next 10 years are at stake in the upcoming primary election for Wisconsin's highest court.

We have four candidates: Jennifer Dorow of Waukesha County; Dan Kelly of the Wisconsin Supreme Court; Everett Mitchell of Dane County; and Janet Protasiewicz of Milwaukee County.

"Fairness, impartiality, that is what I will be," said Dorow.

Under the lights of the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, four Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates made their cases.

"I'm a common sense judge, I was a common sense prosecutor, and I'll be a common sense justice on your Supreme Court," said Protasiewicz.

Conservative groups back Kelly and Dorow, while liberals back Mitchell and Protasiewicz.

The race for Wisconsin Supreme Court is supposed to be non-partisan, but conservatives currently hold the majority. Two liberal and two conservative candidates could shift the majority and impact the court's ideological makeup. That fact is what brought people to the forum.

"I think there was in-depth answers and questions," said Mary Lang Sollinger, a Madison resident.

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"A lot of them were a little hesitant to give more direct answers to the direct questions posed," William Walter of "Our Wisconsin Revolution" said.

The candidates discussed how they would approach cases on topics like abortion.

"It was the first time in my study of law that I can see the Supreme Court went and took a right that people have had for 50 years," said Mitchell.

One topic brought up was redistricting maps that help decide your elected leaders.

 "They are rigged. Period," said Protasiewicz.

"The court's responsibility is limited to considering the legal challenges, not the political challenges," Kelly said.

The importance of staying impartial was also a topic of discussion.

"We wear a black robe, in part, to tell of our authority, but also, to shield us from the biases and the prejudices that we, undoubtedly, bring from our personal experiences," said Dorow.

"It is important to you to know our values, so you can decide who you want to be sitting in that black robe making decisions about the value of our state," Mitchell said.

The primary election is on Feb. 21. Voters will narrow the field down to two candidates who will face off in the general election in April.