Sign In
  • WisBar News
    March 21, 2023

    Candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court Debate at State Bar Center

    Two weeks before the April 4 election, the candidates for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court debated the issues facing the state's highest court.

    Jeff M. Brown

    Judge Janet Protasaywitz, Standing Behind A Lectern On The Left, and Justice Daniel Kelly, Standing Behind A Lectern On The Right, Beneath A Banner That Reads State Bar of Wisconsin

    Daniel Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz squared off at a forum hosted by the State Bar.

    March 21, 2023 – Two weeks before the April 4 election, the candidates for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court debated the issues facing the state’s highest court.

    Dan Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz are vying to replace Justice Patience Roggensack, who’s retiring after 20 years on the supreme court.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin hosted the debate at the State Bar Center in Madison, in partnership with, and WISC-TV 3.

    WISC-TV 3 anchor Susan Siman moderated the debate. The panelists were Emilee Fannon (CBS 58), Will Kenneally (WISC-TV 3), and J.R. Ross (

    Channel streamed the debate live. Watch now.

    National Attention

    This Wisconsin Supreme Court race has drawn national media attention, because many believe the outcome will signal political trends heading into the 2024 elections.

    Jeff M. Brown Jeff M. Brown , Willamette Univ. School of Law 1997, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6126.

    In addition to partners WISC-TV 3 and, other media covering the event live included CNN, The Guardian, The Economist, PBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post​, and ZUMA Press.

    Local coverage included ABC 12 (WISN), CBS 58 (WDJT), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NBC 26 (WGBA), Spectrum News 1, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Examiner, Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin Watch, and WUWM 89.7 FM (WPR).

    Issues Discussed

    The candidates discussed the following issues:

    • criminal justice funding;

    • campaign spending and judicial ethics;

    • the role of the state’s two political parties in judicial campaigns;

    • abortion rights;

    • criminal sentencing;

    • the constitutional amendment on bail reform;

    • legislative re-districting;

    • the role of precedent;

    • the judicial appointment process;

    • public safety;

    • judicial impartiality; and

    • public confidence in the supreme court.

    About the Candidates

    Daniel Kelly received a bachelor's degree in political science and Spanish from Carroll University in 1986. He received a J.D. from Regent University School of Law in 1991. From 1998 to 2013, Kelly was a shareholder at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C. He served as vice president and general counsel for the Kern Family Foundation from 2013 to 2014. In 2014, he became a founding partner at Rogahn Kelly LLC.

    In 2016, Gov. Scott Walker (R) appointed Kelly to succeed Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David T. Prosser, who retired. Kelly left office on Aug. 1, 2020, after being defeated in the April 2020 election. In 2020, he founded Daniel Kelly Consulting and became a senior fellow at the Institute for Reforming Government.

    Janet Protasiewicz received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1985. She received a J.D. from Marquette University Law School in 1988. Protasiewicz served a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney for 26 years before being elected to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2014. She serves as a judge for Branch 24; her term ends on Aug. 1, 2026. Protasiewicz also served as an adjunct law professor at Marquette Law School.

Join the conversation! Log in to leave a comment.

News & Pubs Search

Format: MM/DD/YYYY