Wisconsin Supreme Court allows Republican Ron Johnson to file brief in drop box lawsuit
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Republican Sen. Ron Johnson will be allowed to file a non-party brief in a lawsuit that will decide the future of absentee ballot drop boxes and other methods for more convenient voting in the state.

Republicans have focused on drop boxes and the practice of returning absentee ballots for other people — a method that advocates say is especially helpful to voters with disabilities — as a potential source of fraud in their ongoing efforts to cast doubts on the results of the 2020 election.

The lawsuit was brought by conservative voters in Waukesha County who are represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a right-wing law firm. A Waukesha County judge has already ruled that drop boxes aren’t allowed under state law, and an appeal of that decision is currently before the Supreme Court.

The court has already ruled that drop boxes aren’t allowed in the upcoming April 5 election.

In a dissent of the majority opinion allowing Johnson to file a brief in the case, Justice Jill Karofsky wrote that the senator shouldn’t be allowed to join the proceedings because he has a personal stake in the rules that guide state election laws since he’ll be on the ballot this fall.

“We should adhere to our long-standing practice of not accepting any movant as an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) when that movant has a personal stake in the ultimate ruling,” Karofsky wrote. “Such a personal interest means that movant comes to us not as an ‘impartial adviser’ or ‘friend,’ but instead as an advocate for his or her own interest. Here, Senator Johnson makes no secret of his personal stake in this dispute over absentee ballot return procedure, acknowledging that he will appear as a Senate candidate on an upcoming ballot. Indeed, he argues this ‘direct interest in the outcome’ is a reason we should accept his amicus curiae motion. But that rationale conflicts with our past practice.”

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