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Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice rebuked after Trump racism claims

By Francis Walshe
February 13, 2023

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky is currently in hot water over comments she made about former President Donald Trump during a trial. As a judge, she's not supposed to enter into political commentary from her position on the bench.

An investigation into the matter by Wisconsin authorities has resulted in no action against Karofsky over her remarks, but she's still facing criticism from conservatives.

What Did Karofsky Say?

Karofsky made the offending comment during a lawsuit to overturn the results of the presidential election in 2020, reported Law & Crime.

Speaking to Trump lawyer Jim Troupis, she accused the former president's followers of uttering "allegations of fraud with zero evidence whatsoever." She continued that America was not supposed to be ruled by "governance from a king."

She then stated Trump's supporters "want us to overturn this election so that [their] king can stay in power."

The judge also stated the legal action "smacks of racism," according to a report from the Associated Press.

The proceeding before the court was seeking to invalidate 171,000 ballots that were cast in Milwaukee and Dane Counties. The court ultimately voted 4-3 not to accept Trump's effort, reported Law & Order.

The Complaint

A judicial oversight body in Wisconsin decided to undertake an investigation into the matter after retired Maryland attorney Fletcher Thompson filed a complaint against the judge, reported the Associated Press.

The attorney reportedly stated Karofsky had launched personal attacks against Troupis, accusing the judge of allowing racial and political bias to influence her decision-making. He also noted that former President Trump had endorsed her rival for her position in 2020, according to the AP report.

Karofsky's Response

The judge rejected the opinions expressed in the complaint in defiant terms. Through her attorney Stacie Rosenzweig, she criticized the judicial oversight body for entertaining the complaint, stating those who filed it had engaged in "an attempt to silence a justice who rightfully tried to stop frivolous and dangerous arguments that undermined our democracy," reported the AP.

Karofsky's attorney continued by stating the judge's opinion that "the Commission risks setting a dangerous precedent" with its acceptance of the complaint.

"By allowing the Commission to be weaponized in this fashion," it said, "the Commission became a pawn of those determined to undermine an independent judiciary.”

Probe Findings

The panel chose not to punish Karofsky over her remarks. However, it did instruct the judge to remain impartial in her comments from the bench in future, according to the Associated Press.

The contents of the complaint against her were confidential, the AP revealed, but the judge chose to share the details with the outlet.

In an email she wrote to the AP, Karofsky insisted her statements had not been wrongful. She stated that "the Judicial Code (sic) requires judges to act with impartiality towards the parties, but it does not require a judge to turn a blind eye to dangerous, bad-faith conduct by a lawyer or litigant."

The Associated Press spoke to Fletcher Thompson following the news Karofsky would not be punished. He said he was disappointed, but not surprised, that the judge would not face sanctions over his complaint.

He did, however, express surprise that Stacie Rosenzweig suggested he complained because of political motivations, stating he was just a lawyer responding to something he had seen that he judged to be wrong.