3 Reasons Why the State Supreme Court election is Important – Opinion

Aidan Barney, Editor

On February 21st, Wisconsin held a primary for a little known statewide election that could affect the future of the state for years to come. This election is for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat. This election will decide the ideology of what has been a traditionally conservative court for years. This election has been described by Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler as “The most important election nobody’s heard about.” While that may sound overdramatic, it’s not inaccurate. This election will determine several key issues and how Wisconsin treats them going forward. This includes issues like abortion, gerrymandering and even the outcome of the 2024 election. 


With that perspective in mind, I believe that it’s important to look at how these became issues and why this election has the chance to completely change how Wisconsin goes forward regarding these issues.



Wisconsin has often been referred to as one of the most Gerrymandered States in the country. This doesn’t come without reason. Once republicans took power of the governorship and state legislature in 2010 they were able to redistrict our state legislature and congressional maps in order to make it so there was absolutely no chance of a Democratic majority in either chamber. In 2018 Wisconsin held elections for the state assembly in which the Democrats won about 53% of the popular vote and yet only ended up gaining one seat giving republicans a 63-36 Republican majority despite the voters clearly wanting a Democratic one. Wisconsin is a very evenly divided state, in 2022 Governor Tony Evers only won by a margin of about 51% to 48%. Despite how close that election was, our state legislature maps gave republicans nearly two thirds of all the seats in the legislature. The point is, for over a decade Wisconsin voters, who are closely divided, have been forced to live under what is essentially one party rule of the state government. The conservative running for this Supreme Court seat, Daniel Kelly already has a very clear record on this issue. 


Prior to being a State Supreme Court Justice he was a lawyer who previously represented the Republicans in the legislature following the 2010 redistricting process that landed the state in this mess in the first place. That’s part of the reason why this election is so important. If Daniel Kelly were to be elected come April he would ensure that Wisconsin would remain gerrymandered despite what the wishes of Wisconsin voters may be.



After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe V. Wade with the Dobbs decision in 2022 abortion bans went into effect in many states. Wisconsin was no exception as a law from 1849 that banned abortion with little exceptions went into effect. This Law went into effect despite the fact that many polls including one from Marquette University Law school show that a large majority of Wisconsinites believe that abortion should be legal. Including the latter poll which showed 58% of Wisconsinites favor abortion and feel it should remain legally accessible here in Wisconsin. This election also has the chance to reverse this particular law since there is no national ban on abortion and our State Supreme Court does have the power to rule it unconstitutional. The liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz, while not being able to state how she would rule on a hypothetical case regarding the law were she able to make her way to the bench she has indicated her belief that an abortion should be a private medical decision and a choice between patient and doctor. Daniel Kelly on the other hand has previously made several comments that are now deleted which decried abortion as a moral wrong. Kelly has mostly steered clear of the abortion topic in an effort to appear more moderate. This image he is trying to build however is contrasted by the fact that Kelly has been endorsed by the Wisconsin Right to Life political action group. That group maintains the position that abortion should be illegal in all cases, a far cry from how Kelly has been trying to portray himself. Given this information it is clear that once the election during April comes around the future of abortion access in our state will very much be on the table as a conservative court is almost certain to maintain the current abortion law from 1849.


Future Elections

Following the results of the 2020 election in which Former President Trump was voted out of the White House there was a nationwide effort to overturn the elections results that had determined now President Joe Biden the victor. Wisconsin, being a swing state, was essential to this effort. Here in Wisconsin our election results are notoriously close, in the 2020 election Biden only managed to carry our state by about 21,000 votes out of about 3 million votes cast. Central to this effort by the Republicans was Dan Kelly. 


Kelly’s role in this was revealed when Former Wisconsin Republican Chair Andrew Hitt testified in front of the January 6th committee. In his testimony he detailed a plot to send fake electors from Wisconsin to instead cast ballots for President Trump. After leaving the Wisconsin Supreme Court following being defeated in the 2020 Supreme Court election, Dan Kelly went right back to directly working for Republicans but this time he was hired to work for them regarding election to the tune of nearly 120,000 dollars. Part of this job was him working as a Special Counsel to the Republicans working on the attempt to overturn our states election results through the fake electors. Kelly’s campaign Spokesperson Jim Dick said that “the views of clients are not attributable to their attorneys”. While this may be true and Dan Kelly might not truly believe that the election was stolen from Former President Trump, he is clearly willing to set aside those beliefs if it means he is able to benefit. 


The Wisconsin Supreme Court has already come very close to overturning an election before. Following the 2020 election results, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit with the court in an attempt to overturn the results of the election. The Court did end up rejecting the case but only by a slim margin of 4 of 7 justices agreeing to dismiss the case. Given how close the results were to being overturned by the court it’s very important that come 2024 our Supreme Court is ready and willing to protect the will of the voters. Kelly’s willingness to work to attempt to overturn the results of the last election puts whether he is ready to judge a hypothetical 2024 election lawsuit fairly into question.


What Can You Do?

The first and most important thing that you can do if you are over 18 is that you can vote in this election and absolutely should if you care about any of the issues mentioned above since this election will almost certainly determine how Wisconsin handles them in the future. But if you want to do more than that or are below 18 and want to do something to get involved it’s very important to convince other people that it’s important to vote this April 4th so as many voices are heard as possible. You can do this in a couple ways, just talking to people you know and getting them to vote, or going out and volunteering to knock on doors and get even more people to vote. Both major political parties in our state, the Democrats and Republicans  have pages on the internet for you to volunteer to help get the vote out. Policy change doesn’t come if we don’t  get involved. If you want to see change regarding these issues make an effort to work towards it. Because in the end, no matter our age, we all deserve to have the ability to help decide how we think our state should function in the future. That is a right all of us have.