Paid political letter: Vote for Judge Janet
Ideas and opinions in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stance of this paper. The author of this letter has paid for its placement.
The upcoming election on April 4th is as important as any in the past. Voters will have the choice of casting a ballot for either Judge Janet Protasiewicz or Attorney Dan Kelly for a position on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Judge Protasiewicz, a trial court judge for the past 10 years and before that a prosecutor for more than 25 years, is imminently qualified and will be instrumental in restoring the integrity and independence of a court that has been taken over by far-right interests. She decided to run because of her concern over the direction of the court’s very conservative majority in recent decisions that curtailed voting rights as well as supported political gerrymandering.
While her opponent has criticized her as being partisan when she says that one of her personal values includes a woman’s freedom over her own body, Dan Kelly has been nothing but partisan during his entire career and especially during his previous short stint on the court. As a member of the very conservative Federalist Society, he was actively involved in the Republican Party as a staunch supporter of a former governor, Scott Walker, who appointed him to the Supreme Court in 2016. Although he promised that his political beliefs would not affect his decision making when appointed, Kelly consistently sided with extreme conservative interests rather than the general public. While on the court, he also demonstrated his lack of concern over potential conflicts of interest when he opposed a request by a large group of retired judges that the Supreme Court consider adopting reasonable recusal rules to prevent judges from being involved in cases in which a party, or attorney, contributed substantial amounts to the sitting judge’s campaign. He even refused to hold a public hearing on such an important issue.
When Kelly came up for election to the court for the very first time in 2020, he was soundly rejected by the voters in Wisconsin. As part his effort to return, his campaign continues to receive very large sums from wealthy donors and conservative political action committees outside the state. Therefore, it’s not difficult to understand why he doesn’t want to be governed by any rules that would prevent him from participating in cases in which he may have a conflict of interest.
On the other hand, Judge Protasiewicz supports the court adopting reasonable rules that would prevent judges from handling cases under such circumstances. She believes in the importance of the public knowing and trusting that the court will operate free from any financial or political influence. She is also troubled by the potential negative impact a right-wing conservative majority will continue to have on individual rights should Kelly be put back on the court. This state needs her on its highest court. She is, by far, the better choice on April 4th.
Mike Lucci and Dennis Cochrane