Wisconsin Supreme Court orders pause on state's presidential ballot while it weighs Phillips case

Scripps News exclusive: Dean Phillips on his presidential candidacy
Posted at 9:11 AM, Feb 02, 2024

MADISON (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state elections commission not to transmit the presidential primary ballot to county clerks as it ponders an attempt by Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips to get added as a candidate.

The order comes six days after Phillips asked the court to intervene and have his name added to the ballot in the battleground state after state Democratic leaders on a presidential selection committee did not include it. The only Democrat currently on the April 2 ballot is President Joe Biden.

The Supreme Court's one-sentence order Thursday directed the Wisconsin Elections Commission not to transmit the ballot until further notice. The court has yet to decide whether it will rule in the case, but it has accepted arguments from Phillips, the elections commission and the presidential selection committee.

Attorneys from the state Department of Justice representing the elections commission and the presidential selection committee said in court filings Wednesday that Philllips' challenge should be rejected because he brought it too late.

Attorneys said ballots must be mailed to military and overseas voters no later than Feb. 15, and to meet that deadline, county clerks need to begin drafting and distributing them "as soon as possible."

They asked the court to reject Phillips' lawsuit by Friday, saying that after that "it will become increasingly difficult each day for the clerks to feasibly get the ballots ready, delivered, and mailed on time."

Riley Vetterkind, a spokesperson for the elections commission, had no comment on the court's order.

Phillips, who represents neighboring Minnesota in Congress, is running a long-shot primary bid as the only Democrat in elected office who is challenging Biden.

In Phillips' lawsuit, he argues that his request to be put on the ballot was illegally ignored by the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee, which is comprised of Republican and Democratic leaders who bring forward names for the ballot, and also the Wisconsin Election Commission.

The committee put Biden, former President Donald Trump and five other Republican challengers, including four who have since ceased campaigning, on the ballot.