Supreme Court Candidates Debate at Forum

On Nov. 19, all three candidates running in the spring Wisconsin Supreme Court election met for the first forum of the campaign. The winner of the spring election will serve a ten-year term beginning in 2020. Two candidates – Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone – are challenging incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly for the seat. Read more about the candidates.

Voters will narrow the race from three to two candidates in a primary on Feb. 18, 2020. The general election will be held on April 2, 2020. After this spring, the next Supreme Court election will not be until Chief Justice Roggensack is up for reelection in 2023. With Justice Brian Hagedorn sworn in in August, the Wisconsin Supreme Court currently sits at a 5-2 conservative majority.

At the November forum, candidates discussed their judicial philosophy. Fallone rejected broad judicial theories in general, arguing that “the law can’t be reduced to abstract principles.” Kelly said his judicial philosophy centers around the Constitution and the limited authority of the judicial branch, highlighting his use of rigorous logic to come to judicial conclusions. Karofsky touted her experience in the courtroom every day as a circuit court judge and said her judicial philosophy is treating everyone fairly and respectfully in the courtroom.

Candidates also discussed recusal rules, when justices should overrule precedent, individual rights at the state and federal level, impartiality, and how public opinion should influence judicial decision making.

Watch the full Supreme Court candidate forum here.