As the challenge of Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law nears the Wisconsin State Supreme Court’s desk, abortion access has rightfully remained at the forefront of the state’s Supreme Court race. However, the importance of this election goes far beyond abortion access.
Conservative candidate Justice Daniel Kelly, the GOP’s pick for the seat, has made it clear that his extreme views do not just stop at abortion, but also threaten the rights of Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ community.
Kelly, who previously served on the State Supreme Court from 2016-2020, has openly stated his discontent with the legalization of gay marriage. In his 2016 application for state supreme court, he praised Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage in 2015; and in a 2015 blog post, he claimed that the decision meant that “we, today, no longer have a democracy, much less a republic.”
Separately, in the wake of the decision in United States v. Windsor, which allowed for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, Kelly claimed that this “resulted in the effective elimination of the institution of marriage.” He included this in his 2016 application for the Supreme Court.
While on abortion, he continues to hide where he stands on the 1849 law and whether he would vote to uphold abortion rights. But that hasn’t stopped him from inferring that previous abortion access decisions were improperly decided, or from claiming that his past writings on Roe v. Wade and other major abortion decisions have “certainly [carried] a suggestion” in line with limiting abortion access.
While endorsements from several pro-life groups who support the 1849 law and near total bans on abortion including Wisconsin Right to Life, Pro-Life WI, and Wisconsin Family Action, show that they anticipate him ruling in favor of upholding the 1849 law.
Throughout the past 8 years since the decision, Justice Daniel Kelly has actively written against the legitimacy of, not only the 2015 decision, but also gay marriage in general. If Kelly is elected, it could spell new threats for LGBTQ+ rights in the state.
As April 4th approaches, the future of protecting the LGBTQ+ community, abortion access, and many other issues like redistricting and elections lies within the hands of Wisconsin voters.