Wisconsin Supreme Court Hopeful Ed Fallone Wants To 'Depoliticize' The Bench

Jan 1, 2020

Updated on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 at 12:38 p.m.  

This spring, Wisconsin voters will decide which candidate will earn a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly faces a challenge from Marquette Law professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky. 

The primary will be held Feb. 18, followed by the general election on April 7. That's the same day as Wisconsin's presidential primary.

Although the office is officially non-partisan, the court currently has a 5-2 conservative majority. Kelly is supported by conservatives. He was appointed in 2016 by then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Liberals have endorsed Fallone and Karofsky. 

We interviewed all three candidates.

>> Meet Jill Karofsky
>> Meet Daniel Kelly

Meet Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone.

Why are you running?

I'm running for Wisconsin Supreme Court because I think the situation we face in our state and our country is we have an overpoliticized judiciary. The way to solve that problem is by having more judges with diverse experiences and diverse backgrounds. I come from it as a constitutional law scholar, a criminal defense lawyer and someone who's worked with diverse communities. We need to have more judges with more experiences than what is currently represented. As the first Latino on the court, I would certainly satisfy that goal. 

What's the top reason voters should select you?

The reason voters should select me is because of my broad legal experience. As an experienced lawyer who represented business clients and small business owners, I bring so much added perspective that's not currently there on the court. What makes for better decision making is less politics and more experience.

What's the top reason you believe voters shouldn't choose your opponents? 

I think too often we've gone back to the same narrow perspectives when we select our justices, and then we are frustrated. We're frustrated that we don't believe the court is representing all the people of Wisconsin and we don't believe that it is hearing all the perspectives of the people or being a voice for the entire state.  

What's your judicial philosophy?

I've concluded that there is no one formula, there is no one rulebook. What you need are judges who have a broad range of experience, who look at the law from different perspectives. For example, from my experience in the Latino community, from my experience as an advocate for civil rights, from my experience working with low-income individuals who are trying to navigate the system. The way to have judges make good decisions about constitutional interpretation is to have a wider variety of perspectives.  

If elected, what kind of cases do you think you would be asked to rule on in the next year or two?

I think there are vital issues of concern to all of us that are in the legal pipeline. Our ability to have our voices heard in the making of laws that affect us is under attack and will be before the court whether it's gerrymandering or Voter ID cases.  

Editor's note: Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2016. A previous version of this story said he was appointed in 2015. 

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