Conservative Justice Remains ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Ahead Of Wisconsin Supreme Court Election


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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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  • Conservative Justice Daniel Kelly is “cautiously optimistic” about beating his liberal opponent Judge Janet Protasiewicz on Tuesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election. 
  • Kelly said he would rather lose this election than succumb to partisan politics in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan election.
  • “She’s making it really clear that she intends to be a politician who simply dresses up like a judge,” Kelly told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Wisconsin conservative Justice Daniel Kelly is “cautiously optimistic” about winning Tuesday’s state Supreme Court election, and believes the people of Wisconsin will be able to see through the partisan “garbage” that his liberal opponent spews, he told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.

Kelly, a previous Supreme Court appointee of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, noted how partisan his opponent Judge Janet Protasiewicz is, and how dangerous that is to the justice system. The conservative justice believes that a vote for him is a vote for integrity, the Constitution and the rule of law, and the alternative is a vote for “the rule of Janet.”

“It’s entirely possible that I’ve misread my fellow Wisconsinites: maybe they’re tired of the Constitution, maybe they don’t really care about the liberties it protects, maybe they’re content with having Janet … [dictate] what laws they can and cannot have, and which liberties they may or may not enjoy,” Kelly said. “I think that would be a crying shame.”

The two are vying for the vacant state Supreme Court seat left by conservative Justice Patience Roggensack’s retirement. Tuesday’s election will determine the balance of the Court, and will indicate how Wisconsin will rule in cases that involve abortion, crime and other contentious topics.

Protasiewicz is running a “disgraceful” political campaign, and seems to be confused with what position she is running for, said Kelly. An indicator of how one would rule on the Court is how they run their campaigns, and she exclusively harps on her political preferences like a candidate running for the Legislature would do.

“She’s making it really clear that she intends to be a politician who simply dresses up like a judge,” said Kelly. (RELATED: Soros, Pelosi And Other Top Dems Pour Money Into State Party Ahead Of ‘Nonpartisan’ Wisconsin Supreme Court Race)

Protasiewicz, who said she “embraces” the progressive label, has touted endorsements from Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as activist groups like Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Kelly said he only speaks about his judicial philosophy and the Constitution on the campaign trail, because he thinks it’s important to talk about the things the Courts are responsible for doing. Campaigning on politics in a nonpartisan Supreme Court race violates the separation of powers.

The justice has a long list of endorsements from law enforcement and other judges, as well as some conservative organizations like the Wisconsin Right to Life and the National Rifle Association.

Kelly recognizes that every juror has political beliefs, but acknowledges he must set aside those biases so as they don’t interfere with his role on the bench. The justice said that politics are “poison” in the Courts and that his opponent doesn’t seem to understand that.

“In every case that I analyze, in every opinion that I write, I start with the law that’s applicable to that case … and then I use rigorous logic to move from those premises all the way down to the conclusion,” said Kelly. “When you’re done, you can look back and see an unbroken chain of logic between the conclusions and the premises. And if you can, that’s your guarantee that the conclusion was commanded by law, and is not influenced by any individual’s personal views or politics.”

Kelly describes his judicial philosophy as a Constitutionalist, which he describes as being a combination of a Textualist and Originalist. He interprets law only as it pertains to the language of the Constitution and what was intended by that language at the time it was written.

Protasiewicz abides by a Living Document interpretation, which Kelly describes as a “rejection of law as a principle.” If one constantly changes the meaning of the law, constituents will never know what the law actually means, which abandons the separation of powers and replaces it with the rule of judges, said Kelly.

The conservative justice said he would rather lose this election with integrity, than take high-dollar donations from a political party. Kelly said Protasiewicz was “bought and paid for” by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, nodding to the $8.4 million she recently received from them.

“If I win, I want to be able to serve the people of Wisconsin as a justice, not an adjunct of a political party,” Kelly told the DCNF. “When you receive that kind of money from a political party, the implications are unmistakable: you are an adjunct of that political party.”

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin received $1 million in donations from both George Soros and Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, as well as $12,000 from Democratic California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, according to a finance report for this period. The party then gave Protasiewicz just over $8 million in monetary donations and roughly $700,000 in non-monetary funds.

The Wisconsin Republican Party gave Kelly just under $500,000 in funds, with $457,867 in-kind donations and only $33,657 in monetary donations, this period’s finance report indicates.

The justice loves serving the people of Wisconsin, and finds the work of the Court very “fulfilling,” he said.

Protasiewicz’ campaign did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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