Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Signals He’ll Participate In Voting Case After Losing Election

(Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Justice Daniel Kelly, who lost his Wisconsin Supreme Court seat to liberal Jill Karofsky in the controversial April 7 election, is angling to rejoin a case that might end in a mass voter purge before vacating his seat in August.

Kelly previously recused himself from the case because it could’ve had some bearing on who voted in an election in which he was on the ballot. Since that election has now passed, he said in a Wednesday order, he sees no reason for his further lack of participation.

“The 2020 spring general election is now complete, so it appears the reason for my recusal from considering any aspect of this matter no longer obtains,” he wrote. “I issue this order to give the parties an opportunity to state their position on whether I should recuse myself from considering the pending petition for review and, potentially, the merits of these consolidated appeals, before I make a final decision on my participation.”

He gave the involved parties until April 22 to voice their opinions on his participation.

Karofsky’s campaign did not take kindly to the order.

“Last week, Wisconsinites delivered a resounding message that they are sick of Justices who ignore the law to vote in lockstep with their special interest friends,” Sam Roecker, a spokesman for Karofsky, told TPM in a statement. “We hope that Justice Kelly has finally learned that lesson.”

Kelly telegraphed that he’d be open to rejoining the case even before the election, earning a jab from Karofsky who called the move “corruption in its purest form.”

“(He’s) basically saying, ‘Look, I’ll be there for you (to Republicans) — get me across the finish line on April 7 and I’ll be there for you come November,” she added then, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

The current composition of the court is five conservatives to two liberals, and the voter purge case will likely be decided before Karofsky takes her seat. When Kelly recused himself from the case in December, the remaining justices split three-three on whether to take up the case before an appeals court ruled on it.

The case could ultimately decide if more than 200,000 voters stay on the voting rolls for the election in November.

The fight started in October when the Wisconsin Elections Commission notified the voters to ask if they’d changed addresses. Those who failed to respond would be removed from the rolls in 2021.

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit demanding that the nonresponsive voters be removed before the 2020 election. Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy came down in favor of the Institute for Law & Liberty, and held the deadlocked Commission in contempt for not immediately purging the voters.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul asked the District 4 Court of Appeals in Madison to review the case after Malloy’s ruling. The appeals court froze the order, and a judge in a separate order blocked the contempt ruling.

The case has been highly scrutinized, for good reason: in 2016, President Donald Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes.

Read Kelly’s order here:

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. So… First he’ll author the ruling to kick the 200K off the voter rolls.

    Then, as a private citizen, he’ll sue to have the election overturned because those people shouldn’t have been allowed to vote…

  2. Q: What is the difference between Daniel Kelly and a bucket of shit?
    A: The bucket.

  3. GOP gotta cheat to win, chapter 256.

  4. If Kelly was an honest and just man he would continue to recuse AND retire, NOW.
    He won’t because he’s corrupt. It is that simple.
    He has heard the voice of the people and he does not give a damn about their vote.
    That is because he’s never given a damn about the voice of the people or their vote.
    That is why he wishes to silence them.

    He’s an undemocratic asshole.

  5. Seems like the voters made the right choice in kicking this judge out…it’s pretty unethical to participate in a decision this large when you have lost an election. In fact, he now has a personal grudge against the people who voted him out, and likely believes that he may have won if they were not allowed to vote (he lost by 100k votes). Any lawyer or judge is supposed to withdraw from a case where they have an interest or bias towards a party, so by saying he’ll rule on this he’s breaking the code of ethics.

    I don’t know why it takes so long to seat the new judge in WI, but it should only take a month or two at most. Kelly should withdraw from all cases excepting those where the decision has been made and is being written, leaving them for the next judge to step in. It’s no surprise that he won’t, the WI SC is a Republican project meant to keep Republicans in power, and they don’t want to cede any of that authority, even after the people make their wishes known.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

113 more replies


Avatar for valgalky23 Avatar for ajoguy Avatar for zandru Avatar for richardinjax Avatar for mondfledermaus Avatar for cervantes Avatar for becca656 Avatar for DuckmanGR Avatar for sniffit Avatar for drriddle Avatar for lastroth Avatar for pb Avatar for greylady Avatar for pine Avatar for fiftygigs Avatar for pshah Avatar for tena Avatar for jinnj Avatar for bankerpup Avatar for castor_troy Avatar for dannydorko Avatar for carolson Avatar for jouzu Avatar for Volvo_Birkenstock

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: