The day after the tragic Molson Coors shooting — while Milwaukee was mourning the five friends, neighbors, and loved ones that we had just lost — Dan Kelly, Republicans’ candidate for the April 7 Supreme Court election, had something else in mind.
He was just 12 miles away from the brewing company’s campus hosting a campaign fundraiser at a gun range. While Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and other Milwaukee officials were leading the response to the tragedy, Dan Kelly was busy selling sponsorship levels named after calibers of ammunition — honoring $5000 donors as reaching the “50 Cal M2HB” level, named for the bullets fired from a Browning .50-caliber machine gun.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Dan Kelly would hold a fundraiser at a gun range; Kelly has a long history of adamantly opposing gun violence prevention measures. He’s been enthusiastically endorsed by the NRA. He also wrote the partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion that overrode a local law preventing guns on Madison city buses.
But what’s even more baffling is that he would choose to do so the day after a mass shooting, showing a complete lack of respect for the victims and empathy for their loved ones. And that after he was called out for his insensitivity, he would choose to double down by sending a fundraising email feigning outrage about the outrage that he’d caused.
It would be nice if Kelly cared about gun violence as much as he does about fundraising. But the truth is that he’s always cared more about his special interest backers than everyday Wisconsinites. Ever since and before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by former-governor Scott Walker in 2016, he’s repeatedly ruled on cases and made decisions based on who his friends are, showing a complete lack of respect for the rule of law.
Kelly voted against strengthening anti-corruption rules. He defended the unconstitutional 2011 legislative redistricting maps. He refused to recuse himself from six cases involving organizations that he’d been associated with, and ruled in favor of those organizations every single time. The list goes on and on.
But that’s not the only reason Kelly shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. He’s also held abhorrent views throughout his career, making it clear that he doesn’t live up to our Wisconsin values. For example, he literally compared affirmative action to slavery, saying that “Morally, and as a matter of law, they are the same.”
When it comes to judges, Kelly is as partisan and hateful as they come. The fact that he spoke at a Trump rally and was endorsed by him tells you all you need to know.
That’s why it’s so important that we all rally behind progressive candidate Jill Karofsky. She’s currently a judge on the Dane County Circuit Court, and before that, she fought for survivors of domestic violence.
In many ways, she’s the exact opposite of Kelly.
Instead of espousing hateful views, she was protecting the most vulnerable amongst us in our courts: she was Wisconsin’s first-ever Violence Against Women Prosecutor and is the former director of the Office of Crime Victim Services. Karofsky has built her campaign on holding corrupt politicians accountable.
The people who know her best —the people who’ve watched her work before and during her time as a judge — know this. That’s why she has the support of teachers’ unions, labor unions and women’s rights groups across the state.
This April 7, we have the opportunity to lift Judge Jill Karofsky up to the highest court in the state — and remove Trump’s ally Dan Kelly from a position he never should have held.
The winner of this race will serve for the until 2030. They’re going to shape the future of our state for a generation with a conservative majority on the court, ruling on important issues like redistricting, voting rights, and countless others. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that our very democracy is at stake this April.
We have a choice: elect someone who’s more of a politician and special interest pawn than a judge, or elect someone who’s been a champion for civil rights, in women’s health and in equality for all — not just big corporate interests. So, let’s fight for justice — by electing a Justice worthy of the name: Jill Karofsky.