The primary results are in, and Dorow and Mitchell are out.
Janet Protasiewicz and Dan Kelly topped the polls in the four-candidate race for the Supreme Court. The upcoming April election results are vitally important and will likely send shockwaves throughout the state regardless of which candidate prevails. Conservatives have held a 4-3 majority on the court for 15 years, and this year’s vacant seat has opened the door for liberals to snag the majority and tip the scales in favor of abortion access, voting rights, and many other critical issues within the state.
Protasiewicz, who says that judges should share their values and classifies herself as “very, very progressive,” along with Dan Kelly, appointed to the court by former Governor Scott Walker, are going head-to-head for the open seat.
Protasiewicz is ultra-progressive, pro-abortion and has claimed that legislative maps were “rigged.” She made abortion access a key focus of her campaign. She took 46.4% of the primary vote, while Kelly, who served on the state Supreme Court from 2016-2020, came in second.
Supreme Court races in the state are officially considered nonpartisan, which they should be since judges have the duty, obligation, and responsibility to abide by and implement the law as it’s written. However, Protasiewicz is considered the liberal candidate, while Kelly is the conservative choice.
There isn’t much time for these two candidates to gain the support of more voters in the battleground state. Protasiewicz would shift the power if elected, meaning the new democratic majority could repeal Wisconsin’s 1849 law.
Janet Protasiewicz has made abortion access and women’s rights the key focus of her campaign. On Wednesday, she tweeted that “Reproductive rights are at stake.”
In an interview on Capital City Sunday, Protasiewicz stated, “In regard to the progressive label, I embrace that when it comes to issues such as gerrymandering.” But, she adds, “When we talk about the maps, when we talk about marriage equality, and when we talk about women’s rights and women’s right to choose.” However, some are concerned that Protasiewicz may be too biased and extreme to effectively uphold the law in court, some referring to it as an “unethical level of bias.”
In his victory remarks on Tuesday, Dan Kelly said his opponent represented an “assault on our Consitution.” Kelly will likely maintain a traditional, conservative stance on key issues like abortion, voter ID, etc. The conservative candidate is more concerned about upholding the Constitution as a Supreme Court Judge than prioritizing his ideas and values.
Protasiewicz commented about people like Kelly, “We’re dealing with these people who, you know, want you to believe that they’re going to uphold the Constitution and follow the law, but they’re really partisan extremists.”
Dan Kelly said Wisconsin voters are “going to be passionate about supporting their constitution and protecting it from being overturned by someone who is trying to put her thumb on the scales of justice.”
Protasiewicz Faces Backlash
Janet Protasiewicz was confronted in 2021 after sentencing a 34-year-old felon accused of abducting and raping a 15-year-old girl in a hotel room in May of 2020 with no prison time. The man accused of raping the minor was released back into the community after Protasiewicz rejected prosecutors’ requests and offered him something more generous; jail time plus probation. However, the man was back in Washington County Jail shortly after in July, released again, and reportedly listed as a non-compliant sex offender.
In another case, Protasiewicz eased the blow for 17-year-old Kenneth Blair, accused of three Class B felonies for sexual contact with 7, 8, and 11-year-old girls. Prosecutors recommended two years in prison and eight years of extended supervision. Protasiewicz instead offered him 200 days in jail and three years probation.
It doesn’t end there, either. Protasiewicz also made life a bit easier for Iraida Pizzaro-Osorio, who neglected her 16-year-old so severely that he only weighed 42 pounds. The boy had epilepsy, autism, and a degenerative brain disorder. He was severely malnourished, and his mother admitted she would lock him in his room at night. Prosecutors again recommended prison time. Instead, Protasiewicz gave her 332 days in jail, four years probation, and no prison time.
While her track record of being soft on crime is apparent in these cases, she has also been questioned about her extensive experience claims. In addition, some say she may be lying about her sentencing record after saying in an interview with WKOW that she has sentenced “tens of thousands” of people.
Protasiewicz has sentenced 3,827 defendants as of Feb. 2023, according to Milwaukee County Clerk of Central Court records.
According to the clerk’s office records that have been obtained, Protasiewicz handed down 353 sentences in her first year. She handed down 1,213 sentences in 2015, 806 in 2016, 532 in 2017, 291 in 2018, 336 in 2019, 104 in 2020, 99 in 2021, and 86 in 2022. This year, she has so far handed down seven sentences