Gov. Scott Walker appoints attorney Dan Kelly to Wisconsin Supreme Court

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MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker announced on Friday, July 22nd that he is appointing attorney Dan Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Kelly will replace retiring Justice David Prosser. His appointment won't change the court's 5-2 conservative majority, however. Kelly defended Republicans' 2011 legislative redistricting plan against a federal lawsuit that alleged the maps denied voters their rights.

The 52-year-old Kelly serves on the litigation advisory board for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative group that has filed lawsuits defending several of Walker's most contentious proposals. He wrote in application materials he submitted to Walker that same-sex marriage robs the institution of meaning and affirmative action is akin to slavery.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) President and CEO Kurt Bauer made the following statement:

"Governor Walker had many excellent candidates apply for this appointment, and he made a great choice. Daniel Kelly is exactly the kind of constitutional conservative that Wisconsinites want to sit on our Supreme Court.  We are confident that Daniel Kelly will be a fair and impartial jurist who upholds the law as it is written.

"While replacing such a proven and dedicated public servant like Justice Prosser is no easy task, we are heartened knowing that such a competent and qualified jurist like Daniel Kelly has stepped up. We join the chorus of others in offering congratulations to Daniel Kelly on today's appointment."

Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire), ranking Democratic member of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary, issued the following statement after the announcement:

“To say that I’m disappointed in Governor Walker’s appointment of Dan Kelly would be an understatement.  Kelly has said that affirmative action is the moral equivalent of slavery. He condemned the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down bans on same-sex marriages, and stated that legalizing same-sex marriages has robbed the institution of marriage of any meaning. In court, he defended the Legislative Republicans in their likely unconstitutional gerrymandered redrawing of the state’s legislative districts. Since his graduation from Pat Robertson’s Regent University School of Law, he has had an unremarkable legal career with no judicial experience, whatsoever.

“What Kelly does have, however, is decades of work advancing conservative and Republican legal causes, and I suspect that is the only qualification that Governor Walker was looking for. He’s active in ultraconservative legal organizations like The Federalist Society and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. While it’s unsurprising to me that Governor Walker would pick a conservative to fill this seat, what is surprising is picking such a combative, divisive and polarizing figure. Wisconsin citizens want a justice they can trust to apply the law equally and without prejudice. Dan Kelly most certainly does not inspire confidence in this regard.”

WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg released the following statement:

“I’ve known Dan a long time and enjoyed our personal and professional relationship. He is a very bright, capable attorney who believes in a judiciary that interprets the law objectively, fairly, and follows where the law might lead.

“His experience unquestioningly qualifies him for the Supreme Court where reason and sophisticated legal analysis guides public policy affecting nearly six million Wisconsinites.

“I wish him well and am confident that he will serve Wisconsin with distinction, treat those before the court fairly, and will certainly and quickly earn the respect of his colleagues.”