Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Upset

Liberal challenger Jill Karofsky ousted conservative incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly, slicing the right-wing majority on the court to a 4-3 margin. The race was heated because state Republicans insisted that it must go on as scheduled in spite of the coronavirus epidemic making voting positively dangerous, then fought tooth-and-nail to make sure as many absentee ballots went uncounted as possible (they got an assist from the U.S. Supreme Court on that one). All this notwithstanding, Karofsky ending up winning by 10 points -- a frankly crushing margin given the history of Wisconsin statewide races and the fact that she was a narrow underdog. Some of the county data coming from this race -- Karofsky winning Kenosha County, for instance -- will undoubtedly make state Republicans very nervous about November (and it should).

For his part, Justice Kelly is best known around these parts for authoring perhaps the worst argument I've ever seen against affirmative action. It managed to standout for incompetence even in the hyper-competitive "comparing racial justice measures to slavery" arena, which truly is something.

Of course, the person Kelly replaced literally tried to choke out one of his colleagues, so he still might have been a step up given who came before. Fascinating place, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is. Anyway, I fully expect Judge Karofsky to continue that positive momentum and be a force for good and the rule-of-law in her tenure on the Court.

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