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Former Justice Kelly makes election eve campaign stop to French Island tavern



The political leaning of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the near future will depend on who wins the spring court election, which concludes Tuesday.

Judge Janet Protasiewicz of Milwaukee finished first in the primary and faces former state Justice Dan Kelly, who was appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker.

During a Monday campaign visit to French Island, conservative Kelly repeated his claim that if he loses, the high court will lean liberal by a 4-3 margin, and will fall under the “Rule of Janet,” rather than the “rule of law.”

“What (Protasiewicz) is telling you, is that under the Rule of Janet, it’s not gonna be laws or the constitution that decide cases,” Kelly said. “It’s gonna be her personal, political agenda.”

Kelly urged an audience of 30 to 40 people at Castaways to contact friends to get them to vote, in the election, which has traditionally low turnout — only 21 percent during the last off-year election of 2021.

Kelly, who lost a 2020 election to current state Supreme Court justice Jill Karofsky, said voting to return him to the court means that on the day after the election, the state will continue to run much as it is now.

“But if we don’t,” he warned, “then on April 5th, we need to wake up and start figuring out how we’re gonna live in a completely different form of government, where there are four lawyers in a Madison courtroom telling you how to live your lives.”

The new justice would take office on Aug. 1.

Kelly, and other conservatives, charge that progressive-backed Protasiewicz openly wants to make political decisions and change laws, if she wins the Supreme Court election.

He said Protasiewicz would put her “thumb on the scale” of justice, and “intends to cheat” instead of ruling under the state law.

The winner of the statewide court race will replace retiring conservative Justice Pat Roggensack, who is retiring.

Besides listening to Kelly, people attending the Castaways event also heard from U.S. House Rep. Derrick Van Orden and state Republican Party chair Brian Schimming, urging them to get Republicans to cast ballots on Tuesday.

US House Rep. Derrick Van Orden speaks at Castaways tavern on French Island on April 3, 2023.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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  1. Carol Herlitzka

    April 4, 2023 at 11:28 am

    I voted for Dan kelly. We do not need a George Soros funded judge in our state. Nor do we need unions
    Involved in politics. Judges do not make new rules. They follow the constitution..
    This woman judge got 1 million from mr soros. George Soros is a Hitler lover.
    People if you want to live in china, you are free to go there. I myself want to live in the usa.!
    Take tour heads out of your rear end and start smelling fresh air!!!

  2. Gino Whitaker

    April 5, 2023 at 12:31 pm

    Kelly’s concession speech illustrates exactly what kind of person he really is. Glad we dodged THAT bullet.

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