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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


In a 2014 book, Daniel Kelly wrote:

“Affirmative action and slavery differ, obviously, in significant ways. But it’s more a question of degree than principle, for they both spring from the same taproot. Neither can exist without the foundational principle that it is acceptable to force someone into an unwanted economic relationship. Morally, and as a matter of law, they are the same….”

Kelly included the same passage in his 2016 application for a Supreme Court vacancy.

In a 2013 blog post, Kelly described Social Security as “involuntary servitude” by taxpayers to benefit those whom he described as “people who have chosen to retire without sufficient assets to support themselves.”

Kelly, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, is running in the April 4 Supreme Court election against Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


DocumentCloud: Daniel Kelly Supreme Court application (Page 59 of pdf)

The Cap Times: Who is new Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly? Questions and answers about Scott Walker’s appointment to the bench

Internet Archive: The Moral Consensus That Must Not Be Mentioned

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.