Another week passes, and more uncertainty pervades every facet of our day-to-day lives as the pandemic continues to impact our nation and our world. Ideally, this day sees you experiencing those small victories or moments of good that will undoubtedly continue in these uncharted waters.
As the spring election approaches, voters are being implored to seek out absentee measures for voting. Please note this column is prepared several days in advance of publication, so there is a possibility procedures may change, and more than ever, it is critically important for voters to be informed on the process. I encourage all to visit myvote.wi.gov for the latest updates, and contact your municipal clerks for information.
This election includes the Democratic presidential primary, and Joe Biden appears to have a lock on the nomination. It will also feature a host of county board and municipal races across the state. The one statewide race this year is for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Much like last year’s race between Justice Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer, this race features a definitive contrast in judicial styles and philosophies.
A non-partisan race, it nonetheless has candidates distinctively supported by the political parties. Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed to the high court in 2016 by then-Gov. Scott Walker to replace a retiring Justice David Prosser, and is generally favored by Republicans and conservatives. Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky is typically preferred by Democrats and liberals. It’s become commonplace in the last several Supreme Court races to have these distinct differences in candidates.
The cavalcade of recent events, and limitations on the sizes of gatherings and meetings has impacted our ability to see and hear from these candidates. Several expected forums featuring both candidates have been cancelled, making it more of a challenge for voters to get informed. With COVID-19 rightfully dominating the headlines, whether you go to work, visit the grocery store or other commonplace activities are impacted.
Those limitations don’t mean we don’t have any information from which to discern. On March 16, the Cap Times did an in-depth dive on the contrast between the candidates. Kelly stated “his is a message that’s resonating with voters because they want justices who ‘just apply the law,’” and that “his decisions are based on a chain of ‘rigorous logic’ laid out in his rulings.
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The story further reported “elected as a Dane County judge three years ago, Karofsky pledged she would ‘advocate for social justice issues’ in her role,” (telling) the UW Madison Pre-Law Society she supports overhauling the state’s criminal justice system.”
We are in a time of great criticism of law enforcement, including their methods and procedures. What is telling to the general public is whether law enforcement officials feel supported by other aspects of the criminal justice system, including judges.
I would encourage voters to check out the respective websites and review the law enforcement endorsements of the respective candidates. Kelly is at justicedanielkelly.com, Karofsky at jillforjustice.com. As of March 22, Justice Kelly had the endorsement of 44 county sheriffs out of 72 Wisconsin counties. Judge Karofsky had five. A nearly ten-to-one overwhelming endorsement of Justice Kelly by those boots on the ground in law enforcement.
Karofsky’s television ads have tried to paint Kelly as an “extremist” who opposes abortion and favors school choice. Kelly’s positions on those topics aren’t really a part of the rationale for a Supreme Court justice, but there are certainly millions of Wisconsinites that would take those stances as far less than “extreme,” to the point of offering their support for Justice Kelly.
It’s also a grave matter of concern when you hear the words “social justice” used by any judge at any level. The role of the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin is to simply apply the law as it is currently written. In depictions of the judiciary, the scales of justice are always pictured with a blindfold.
A March 17 Journal Sentinel story, described how all campaigns are changing their tactics and strategies to cope with the ever-evolving landscape around us all. Gone are the campaign rallies, fundraisers, door knocking and meet-and-greets that would be so prevalent in the upcoming weeks. They’ve been replaced by more phone calls, postcards, and social media posts.
This election will likely be different than many for most, but as always, we ask for the effort to make your voice heard. Justice Kelly merits your support for ten more years as a Supreme Court justice, and I hope you will join me in that support. Stay safe, and we will persevere.
Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at email@example.com.
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