2023 Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Non-partisan Voters Guide

To download a PDF of this guide in English, click here, To download a PDF of this guide in Spanish click here.

Control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be decided this spring.

Four candidates are running in the February 21 primary for one seat on the court. You’ll vote for one of them; the top two vote-getters will then compete in the April 4 general election. Although the race is nonpartisan, Jennifer Dorow and Daniel Kelly are viewed as Republican-supported conservatives, with Everett Mitchell and Janet Protasiewicz as Democratic-supported liberals.

Why your vote matters

Conservative justices currently have a 4-3 majority; this election will either maintain that majority or switch the majority to the liberals. Four years ago, a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat was decided by 6,000 votes, while three quarters of eligible voters stayed home. This primary could be equally close.

This primary is also particularly important because, in a narrowly divided state, it’s possible that either two conservatives or two liberals may advance to the April 4 general election.

This election may determine how the Court rules on a challenge by Wisconsin’s Attorney General to the state’s 1849 abortion ban, which makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest and took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The winner will likely rule on voting rules cases, like a 2022 decision banning ballot drop boxes. The winner will also be on the court through the next round of redistricting and would rule on any challenges to current legislative maps.

To help you decide

We’ve assembled background about the candidates’ experience, positions, publicized endorsements, and rulings where relevant. To learn how and when to vote, see the last section of this guide. To learn more about the candidates, you can watch a live candidate forum.

Candidate Overviews

Jennifer Dorow
Daniel Kelly
Everett Mitchell
Janet Protasiewicz

Jennifer Dorow

Dorow graduated from Marquette University and earned a J.D. from Regent University School of Law. She has worked as a Waukesha County assistant district attorney and in private practice as a defense attorney. In 2011 she was appointed a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge by Republican Governor Scott Walker, and then won re-election twice. She was appointed as a chief judge by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2017, then became chair of the Committee of Chief Judges. Dorow is best known for presiding over the 2022 trial of Waukesha Christmas parade attack defendant Darrell Brooks Jr, ordering him to serve six life sentences.

Endorsements: Dorow’s endorsements include outgoing Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack—part of the Court’s conservative bloc, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jon Wilcox, and Republican state Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, along with the Milwaukee Police Association, Waukesha County Police Chiefs Association, 42 current and retired county sheriffs, and the Wisconsin Right to Life PAC.

Website: judgejennifer.com

Daniel Kelly

Kelly graduated from Carroll University and earned a J.D. from Regent University School of Law, where he was founding editor of the Law Review. Kelly clerked on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where he then served as staff attorney. He spent more than two decades in private practice and was also vice-president and general counsel for the Kern Family Foundation. In 2016 Republican Governor Scott Walker appointed Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where he served until 2020, when his term ended and he was not re-elected. He then joined the Institute for Reforming Government as a Senior Fellow.

Endorsements; Kelly’s endorsements include Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley—part of the Court’s conservative bloc and Appeals Court judge Shelley Grogan, along with 19 Wisconsin county sheriffs and the Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund PAC, Wisconsin Family Action, and Wisconsin Right-to-Life.

Everett Mitchell

Mitchell graduated from Morehouse College. He then earned a Master of Divinity and a Masters of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. He was an assistant district attorney in Dane County and director of community relations at UW-Madison. In 2016 he was elected to the Dane County Circuit Court and presides over the Juvenile Division in Branch Four, also overseeing the county’s High Risk Drug Court program. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and has been Senior Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison since 2011.

Endorsements; Mitchell’s endorsements include former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, Madison police chief Shon Barnes, and Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett, along with judges, other police chiefs, and elected officials.

Website: judgeeverettmitchell.com

Janet Protasiewicz

Protasiewicz graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a J.D. from Marquette University Law School, where she later served as adjunct Professor of Law. She worked as a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney for more than 25 years and then in 2014 was elected to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, where she currently serves in Family Court. She has also presided over homicide, sexual assault, misdemeanor, domestic violence, and drug courts.

Endorsements: Protasiewicz’s endorsements include current Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Dallet and Ann Walsh Bradley—both part of the Court’s liberal bloc, and Emily’s list, as well as Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers of Wisconsin, United Auto Workers (UAW) Wisconsin State CAP Council, American Federation of Teachers Local 212, and other unions, along with judges, elected officials, and others.

Website: janetforjustice.com

How to Register and Vote in the February 21 Wisconsin Supreme Court Primary

Here’s how to register and vote in the February 21 primary election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Four candidates are running; the top two will advance to the general election on April 4. That election will decide control of the Court. See our nonpartisan guide to the candidates’ backgrounds, positions, and endorsements.

Dates and Deadlines


Absentee Voting:

Election Day

Voting Tools and Information

To vote in Wisconsin, you’ll need to register, discover your voting options, and find your polling place for in-person voting. Here’s where to go to make all that happen.

Absentee Voting

All voters in Wisconsin can request an absentee ballot be mailed to them for any reason, so long as they’ve already registered. You can request an absentee ballot on the MyVote site and must provide a copy of a valid photo ID with your first absentee ballot request.

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