Walker Appoints Daniel Kelly to Wisconsin Supreme Court

On Friday, July 22, Gov. Walker appointed attorney Daniel Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David Prosser. Gov. Walker selected Kelly over the two other finalists, appeals court judges Thomas Hruz and Mark Gundrum.

Kelly is a founding partner and commercial litigator at the Milwaukee law firm Rogahn Kelly. Before starting the firm, Kelly worked for 15 years as a lawyer at the firm Reinhart Boerner Van Duren.

The Waukesha attorney has litigated cases before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U. S. Supreme Court. Like outgoing Justice David Prosser and Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Kelly comes to the high court without any previous judicial experience.

In his career, Kelly served on the legal team that defended the 2010 Republican-drawn legislative maps before a panel of federal judges. Kelly has also served as an attorney to Justice David Prosser’s campaign during a 2011 recount after a close election against opponent Joanne Kloppenburg. Most recently, Kelly served as an advisor to Justice Rebecca Bradley’s 2016 campaign.

Kelly currently serves as President of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society and on the litigation advisory board for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Additionally, Kelly is on the state’s advisory board to the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Many insiders view this as a legacy pick for Gov. Walker. Daniel Kelly will hold the seat until he is up for election in April 2020 and could potentially sit on Wisconsin’s high court for decades. The next Wisconsin Supreme Court justice up for re-election is Annette Ziegler in 2017. Justices Michael Gableman and Shirley Abrahamson follow in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Prosser, who announced his retirement in early May, has served on the court since 1998 after being appointed by Gov. Tommy Thompson. Prosser then went on to win re-election in 2001 and 2011. He also served in the Assembly from 1979 to 1997 and spent two years as Speaker. Prosser’s last day on the bench will be July 31.