Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates speak at forum

Published: Feb. 3, 2020 at 10:54 PM CST
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A full crowd was at the Sorenson Hall atrium at UW-Stout on Monday evening to hear from the three candidates vying for a spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The candidates answered questions in a judicial forum about constitutional interpretation, legal precedent, basis for recusal, and how they would ensure and non-partisan Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court makes a lot Of Decisions for the Civil Liberties of Wisconsinites,” says Tim Shiell, professor of philosophy at UW-Stout. “I think western Wisconsin often gets overlooked in statewide elections so I thought it was important to have Menomonie host something like this.”

The three candidates include Ed Fallone, a Marquette University law professor, Daniel Kelly who has served as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice since 2016 and Jill Karofsky a judge for Branch 12 of the Dane County Circuit Court... who participated in the forum by video.

The candidates were asked about their views dealing with legal precedent.

“We need a judge that follows legal precedent,” Karofsky said.

“Not what the courts opinions were in the past but the primary obligation has to be to the law,” Kelly said.

“This is where Judge Kelly and I disagree quite strongly I am a firm believer the courts should follow precedent,” Fallone said.

Things got personal when Karofksy accused Justice Kelly of ruling with the right wing special interest.

“He has not offered one time where he has ruled against the right wing special interest,” Karofksy said.

“It is nonsense that I have ruled in favor of special interest groups and that the court is corrupt. It is an ugly vicious slander,” Kelly responded.

The candidates also discussed how they would ensure a non-partisan Supreme Court.

“I completely reject this ridiculous accusation that I rule for organizations I rule for the law every time,” Kelly said.

“I would pass a really good recusal law and I would make my case to Wisconsin voters that what they need is a judge who has a track record of following the rule of law,” Karofsky said.

“I have been the candidate who has refused to engage in partisan attacks or accuse Wisconsinites of being on my team or the other team,” Fallone said.

WEAU’s Danielle Wagner served as the moderator for the event sponsored by UW-Stout's Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation.

The three candidates will be on the ballot in the Wisconsin primaries on February 18. The next justice will be chosen in the spring election on April 7. The winner will serve a ten year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.