The WRA Endorses Dan Kelly for State Supreme Court

 Nathan Conrad and Joe Murray, WRA advocacy team  |    March 01, 2023

The WRA has endorsed Daniel Kelly for a full 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The general election will be held on April 4.

Dan Kelly was appointed to the court in 2016 by former Gov. Scott Walker and served until 2020. Prior to his appointment to the state’s highest court, Kelly was vice president and general counsel for the Kern Family Foundation. Kelly also has private sector experience as a former business litigator with the law firms Rogahn Kelly LLC as well as Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.

The WRA’s Strategic Advocacy Group, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) trustees and the WRA board of directors all voted to support Kelly.

Why Kelly?

The WRA’s endorsement decision was based on a thorough review of all candidates running for Wisconsin Supreme Court. The WRA leadership and relevant committees studied the candidates’ records, reviewed their responses to a written questionnaire, and conducted direct interviews with all four candidates in this election. In the end, Kelly was selected as the best choice for the real estate industry.

The endorsement of Kelly is based primarily on the following:

Record on cases impacting the real estate industry

During his four years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Kelly ruled on 25 cases important to the real estate industry and the WRA. Of those 25 cases, Kelly ruled in a manner that was beneficial to the real estate industry or property owners in 14 of those cases, six rulings were a draw depending on various perspectives, and five rulings were unfavorable. Kelly’s record illustrates a strong commitment to private property rights and upholding contracts where possible.

Favors private property rights

Kelly’s application for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice included the following question: “In 500 words or less, name one of the worst United States or Wisconsin Supreme Court opinions in the last thirty years and explain why you feel that way.” Kelly named the seminal “takings” case of U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), citing the case as “the worst opinion in the last 30 years.” He further expressed his concern by stating, “In concluding that a private ‘taking’ is justifiable upon the government’s belief that the transferee will put the property to a more economically productive use, it exercised legislative — not judicial — authority. And in doing so, it simultaneously offended both the implicit and explicit limitations on governmental authority.” The WRA strongly agrees with Kelly’s position on this high-profile case.

Judicial philosophy

When asked to describe his judicial philosophy, Kelly said, “Our constitutional republic, and the rule of law, can thrive only when the judiciary operates within its proper boundaries. Chief Justice Roberts, in his confirmation hearing memorably analogized the judicial role to baseball. He observed that ‘judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.’ He then promised he would ‘remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.’ While this is a good and pithy summary of judicial conservatism, its power comes from the truth that lies at its foundation.”

Vote Kelly on April 4

The general election is April 4. Please mark your calendar and vote on Election Day. We urge your support of Justice Dan Kelly in this important election.

Nathan Conrad is the WRA Director of Political Advocacy, and Joe Murray is the WRA Director of Political & Governmental Affairs.

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