Waukesha County Judge Dorow will run for state Supreme Court seat

NOW: Waukesha County Judge Dorow will run for state Supreme Court seat

Updated: 8:32 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2022

WAUKESHA Wis. (CBS 58) -- She became a household name for the skillful way she handled the Darrell Brooks trial. Now, we're about to hear more from Waukesha's Chief Judge Jennifer Dorow as she steps into the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The official announcement is coming on Wednesday. This seat's got the potential to tip control of the court liberal or conservative in a time when many hot-button issues could be decided.

We already know Judge Dorow for her patience and professionalism.

"I'm gonna ask the state some questions. If you interrupt when I do that, you will be removed to the other courtroom, " Judge Dorow said in court Nov. 11 to defendant Darrell Brooks. Brooks replied, "OK, remove me then."

But Wisconsin voters will need to know more. A day after Judge Dorow told us she owes it to the citizens of Wisconsin to seriously consider a run for Supreme Court, she's in.

"That's teeing up an announcement for sure," said Anthony Chergosky, assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

Dorow jumps into the race when three others have already declared their candidacies. 

"Yeah, a four-person race, buckle up. I mean, especially when you have two on each side," said Chergosky.

Two lean liberal -- Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell and Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz. 

Protasiewicz's campaign manager Alejandro Verdin sent us this statement Tuesday:

"As a judge and 25-year prosecutor, Judge Janet Protasiewicz has spent her career keeping our community safe and upholding the law. Judge Janet brings a commonsense approach to the bench, and she will vigorously defend our constitutional freedoms and women's right to make her own decision when it comes to abortion. Judge Janet provides a clear contrast with right-wing exremists like Jennifer Dorow and Dan Kelly, who are both radically out of touch with the concerns of Wisconsinites."

"They're going to come under a lot of pressure, the two liberal justices, for one of them to drop out of the race, and that is just to ensure for their side that one of the two makes it to the April election," said Professor Chergosky.

The third candidate is a former Supreme Court justice, a proven conservative -- Daniel Kelly.

"I think a lot of conservatives feel very comfortable with him because they know that he is indeed a reliable conservative. They don't know that about Judge Dorow," said Professor Chergosky.

The next three months we'll expect to learn the views of all four candidates on hot-button issues that may come before the court, like the 1849 abortion law. 

"Josh Kaul AG has filed a lawsuit challenging the state's 1849 ban on abortion. If you had a liberal majority on the court rather than a conservative one, you could argue that challenge has a much more greater chance of being successful," said JR Ross, WisPolitics editor. 

Another issue to watch for is political redistricting.

"The state Supreme Court could consider a legal challenge to the district lines that have been drawn by the Republican Legislature and they could potentially invalidate those lines and prompt a redrawing of the districts," said Chergosky.

Supreme Court candidates show up on the ballot as independents, so voters will want to do their research.

"You'll probably hear them use buzz words during the course of the campaign. The conservatives will talk about being strict constructionalists, like that the Constitution is not a living, breathing text. It is set in stone. You might hear liberalists talk about how you have to kind of address legal issues as the times change," said Ross.

The primary is less than three months away.

Published: 12:13 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2022

Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow plans to announce her bid for state Supreme Court on Wednesday, sources tell CBS 58.

Dorow, who presided over one of the state's highest-profile cases involving a man who killed six and injured dozens during the Waukesha Christmas parade, is planning to run to replace outgoing conservative Justice Patience Roggensack.

The announcement sets up a high-stakes election. Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The other conservative-leaning candidate in the race is former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly. Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz, both liberal candidates, are running as well.

A primary election for the seat currently held by retiring conservative Justice Patience Roggensack will take place on Feb. 21, 2023, with a general election between the top two primary vote-getters taking place on April 4, 2023.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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