Wisconsin Jurists Who Defied Trump Get an Earful

In the days following her astringent questioning and subsequent vote against an effort by President Donald Trump to subvert the will of the electorate by tossing out hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin votes, state Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky has received a flurry of angry voicemail messages on her official court phone line.

Karofsky, during the oral arguments, noted that the lawsuit filed by Trump targeted only the two Wisconsin counties with the highest number of Black voters.

“You got a lot of guts,” one caller stated, as recorded in an MP3 file released Wednesday to The Progressive in response to an open records request. “You refer to Trump as a king? Yet you are the tyrant bitch. You are the tyrant bitch who allows cheating and fraud to put a socialist puppet of China in the White House. Trump is not a king. Trump is a President legally elected by the people, not the fraud you allow, you fucking bitch. You’re the socialist tyrant bitch. Trump is an American patriot. And you’re fucking garbage, you fucking piece of shit pig.” 

The caller did not give his name, but his phone number was registered along with others on the file of messages that Karofsky released, without redactions. It is identified on the recording as message 40.

Karofsky, hearing oral arguments in the case during an unusual weekend session this past Saturday, had challenged the contention of Trump’s lawyer, Jim Troupis, that the election results in the state’s two most populated counties, Milwaukee and Dane, should be thrown out because of alleged errors made by state election officials: “You want us to overturn this election so that your king can stay in power, and that is so un-American,” she said.

This comment was cited in a footnote to a dissent to the 4-3 ruling issued Monday, in which the majority declined to throw out the votes as requested. The dissent by Justice Rebecca Bradley, joined by Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justice Annette Ziegler, declared: “When a justice displays such overt political bias, the public’s confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary is destroyed.”

In all, Karofsky received thirty-five critical phone messages, compared to just two that were positive, from Saturday, December 12 through Monday, December 14. She also released one printed letter and notes regarding four calls fielded by her staff last Saturday. All four callers were critical. One said she was “disserved by [Justice Karofsky’s] questioning, disturbed by her behavior to the people of Wisconsin,” according to the notes. The caller “would not leave her name or number.” 

Another caller whose message was taken by the justice’s staff vowed that she “will be campaigning against [Karofsky]. Her attitude was horrible.” This caller, who would not leave her name, then asked “Is she a Democrat?” and hung up. The office of Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is officially nonpartisan. Karofsky, backed by liberals, beat incumbent conservative Justice Dan Kelly in an election this past April. 

A third caller, identified in the notes as Kathy Meander from Lodi, said “my voice has not been heard” and that the court needs to “do their job and end this fraud or they’re complicit.”

The letter to Karofsky, from Michael R. Clemens of Madison, chided unnamed individuals who “are dismissive of accusations and evidence presented because it is perceived as an attack on a particular political party. I have also observed that many in our Judicial system have disregard for the legal challenges regarding voting and vote/voter integrity.”

In response to an identical records request, Justice Rebecca Dallet, who joined the court majority and played a lead role in the oral arguments, released one letter, one email, and one voicemail directed at her, all critical. The email and letter were both from Darren L. Watters, who described himself as “Military Veteran – Military Intelligence.” The email, in its subject line, accused Dallet of: “BIAS, INCOMPETENCE, OR OUTRIGHT CORRUPTNESS.” The letter explored these themes further. 

The voicemail left on Dallet’s office phone was from a woman caller who did not leave her name. The message said: “Hey, you’re a piece of shit. Not any old piece of shit—an Obama, George Soros, liberal, lefty piece of shit.”

Last week, The Progressive reported that Justice Brian Hagedorn, elected with the help of conservatives, had received more than a dozen scathing office voicemail messages after siding with court liberals in refusing to take jurisdiction over the case before it was heard by a lower court. The case heard Saturday and decided Monday, shortly before Wisconsin’s Electoral College votes were cast for Joe Biden, was the end result of that process.

“This is why sometimes women should not be in leadership because obviously she’s not going by the law,” said a caller who identified herself as Lucy Conan (spelling phonetic) of Green Bay.

The majority decision, written by Hagedorn and joined by the court’s three liberal-backed members—Karofsky, Dallet, and Ann Walsh Bradley—argued that if the Trump campaign had a problem with the way the election was run, which was mostly the same as in past elections, it should have acted sooner. 

“The challenges raised by the Campaign in this case—come long after the last play or even the last game; the Campaign is challenging the rulebook adopted before the season began,” Hagedorn wrote. “Striking these votes now—after the election, and in only two of Wisconsin’s seventy-two counties when the disputed practices were followed by hundreds of thousands of absentee voters statewide—would be an extraordinary step for this court to take. We will not do so.”

The three dissenting justices—Roggensack, Ziegler, and Rebecca Bradley—indicated that they may have gone along with disallowing some votes, although this would likely not have been enough to overturn the election result in Wisconsin, much less nationally.

But as Karofsky’s critical callers saw it, her tough questions were somehow responsible for Trump’s defeat. They were particularly incensed by the suggestion that there was something racist about disallowing Black votes.

Karofsky, during the oral arguments, noted that the lawsuit filed by Trump targeted only the two Wisconsin counties with the highest number of Black voters. “This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smacks of racism,” Karofsky said. “I do not know how you can come before this court and possibly ask for a remedy that is unheard of in U.S. history. . . . It is not normal.” 

A caller who identified himself as a Republican from Florida and who repeatedly described Karofsky as “ugly,” put it this way: “This is a major fraud election and it had nothing to do with fucking racism. You understand that? It has to do with the rule of law. People broke the law. It is mainly Black people in minority areas. It’s happening in the Democratic-run mainly Black areas.” (The lawsuit did not allege any fraud committed by individual voters.) The caller concluded: “You need to step down. You’re a fucking idiot.” The call appears on the recording as message 19.

Another caller, who did not give his name, opined, in a southern drawl: “Yeah, I heard that they arrested a Black man in a Black neighborhood in one of these big Democratic cities. That smacks of racism, man. Why would they arrest a Black man in a Black neighborhood? Maybe that’s because that’s where the crime just played, how ‘bout that? It smacks of racism, though, don’t it?” (Message 24)

While crude and ill-informed, most of the messages left for Justice Karofsky avoided making any threats. The one exception was a caller who imparted this wish: “You will burn in hell. That is the only satisfaction I have out of all of this corruption that’s going on. You and all the other corrupt pieces of garbage like you that are supporting voter fraud and destroying freedom in this country will burn in hell for eternity.” (41)

Several callers said they planned to work against Karofsky’s reelection, in 2030. Many expressed the opinion that the justice was biased.

“I was utterly shocked and appalled by your comments on Saturday characterizing Trump supporters as basically racist,” said a caller to Karofsky who gave and spelled her name as Cynthia Vercruysse. (Karofsky made no such contention.) “I think that what you said was extraordinarily unprofessional and inappropriate. Extremely so. You should be off the bench for these kinds of comments.” (19) 

“You are so worried about disenfranchising counties in your state that committed clear fraud on the American people and disenfranchising 260,000 people,” said a caller who identified herself as Kimberly Shaver (spelled phonetically). “What about your two counties disenfranchising 74 million people? Because if you vote to allow this to happen, you are allowing two counties in your state to disenfranchise 74 million people, And that’s a travesty.” (8) The actual number of Wisconsin votes Trump sought to disqualify is 221,000. 

Cynthia Lima of Franklin, Wisconsin, who gave and spelled her name, urged Karofsky to “seriously consider getting out of the state.” (13) Another caller, who didn’t give his name, vowed that “we’re going to spend billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, to get you out of office.” (21) Another unidentified caller suggested that Karofsky might be “part of the Chinese problem,” adding, “I’ll have to dig into that a little bit more and let you know what I find out.” (22) Yet another caller said: “You sound like some kind of tweet from AOC or someone.” (32)

Karofsky, said a caller who identified herself as Robin from Brookfield, “is totally out of line. She is insubordinate, and she needs to be restrained. I’m going to go higher up with some of her superiors and say, she needs to stop talking about racism. She’s legislating from the bench and shame on her.” (34)

“This is why sometimes women should not be in leadership because obviously she’s not going by the law,” said a caller who identified herself as Lucy Conan (spelling phonetic) of Green Bay. (35)

Karofsky also received a couple of positive voicemail messages. “I just want to congratulate you on your stance regarding the lawsuits claiming a false election or an undemocratic election. Thank you for the stand you are taking.” (29)

“Everything that you did and said,” expressed another caller, was “absolutely the right thing.” (38)

This post was originally published on Radio Free.