Tuesday, March 28Welcome

State Supreme Court scramble heats up as field expands

WAKESHA, Wisconsin — Joined by family, friends and colleagues, Waukesha Corporation Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Drarrow made the official announcement Wednesday.

What you need to know

  • On Wednesday afternoon, Waukesha Co. Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorough announced her candidacy for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • Dorow recently presided over the trial of a man convicted of killing six people during last year’s Waukesha Christmas parade.
  • Conservative ex-judge Dan Kelly and liberal circuit court judges Everett Mitchell of Dane County and Janet Protasiewicz of Milwaukee County are already in the nonpartisan race.
  • The February primary will narrow the candidates down to two candidates and determine the ideological dominance of the courts ahead of the spring elections in April.

Dorow has made some headlines in recent weeks after presiding over the trial of Darrell Brooks Jr.

Brooks is the man convicted of killing six people at last year’s Waukesha Christmas parade.

The high-profile incident received a lot of media attention and could be an advantage for Drow, who enters the race a little later than usual. The primary election is looming in February.

“After much discussion and much prayer, I have come to the conclusion that now is the right time for me and my family to pursue what will be the next chapter in my legal career. .

Dorow joins three other candidates vying for the position.

“I am a judicial conservative and believe that the job of a judge is to apply the law as it is written to the facts of the case, and not to bend the constitution or the law to do what I want it to say. ‘ explained Drow.

Another conservative, Justice Dan Kelly, is running. He was appointed to the High Court by former Governor Scott Walker in 2016 to fill the vacancy. When he next ran for his 2020 election, he lost his bid to stay on the bench in 2020.

A pair of liberal circuit court judges will also be on the ballot in February — Everett Mitchell of Dane County and Janet Protasiewicz of Milwaukee County.

The two candidates from the February primary will face off in the April general election. In August, the winner will be the conservative Patience, who will take the seat of Judge Roggensack.

State Supreme Court elections are technically nonpartisan, but spring elections determine the court’s ideological balance.

Conservatives now hold a 4-3 majority. But liberals see this election as a great opportunity to shift control ahead of the 2024 presidential election cycle.

The future of abortion rights, how legislative districts and political boundaries are drawn, and union recognition at UW Health may all be issues to be decided by courts in the near future.

There are also many past judgments that may resurface. Some of them were decided by a 4-3 conservative majority that could be overturned by a 4-3 liberal majority next year.

“For all cabinet nominations and other committees that are still filled with people who have refused to step down since the time of Scott Walker, the state Supreme Court basically said it was fine. It was a four-to-three decision, so we overturned one,” explained David Canon, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “If you’re serving on one of these boards under Scott Walker’s appointment, I’d say you need to step down.”

A ruling like this hypothetically could prove very important, especially as Governor Tony Evers prepares for a second term and considers moving forward with his Cabinet.

After announcing her candidacy for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday, Waukesha Company Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Drow celebrates with her supporters. (Spectrum News 1/Mandy Hague)

According to Cannon, the race is also expected to draw more attention than a typical election cycle to gain control of the courts.

“It will be different from two of the last three state Supreme Court elections in that it will not be synchronized with the presidential primary,” Cannon said. “Both 2016, won by Rebecca Bradley, and 2020, won by Jill Karofsky, had concurrent presidential primaries. It was only the Democratic primary that was being contested, so I think it really helped get more Democratic voters in 2020.”

A primary election will be held on February 21 to narrow down the candidates ahead of the April 4 election.

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