Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Walker Appointee Says God Decides Law

State Supreme Court nominee Daniel Kelly says scriptures trump legal precedent.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Aug 12th, 2016 12:54 pm
Daniel Kelly. Photo from LinkedIn.

Daniel Kelly. Photo from LinkedIn.

The consent of the governed?

Not always needed, wrote Daniel Kelly, Gov. Scott Walker‘s newest appointee to the Supreme Court.

God’s laws trumped everybody else’s.

“There is a law pre-existing governments that does not depend on any man’s volitional action or decision,” Kelly wrote, channeling John Quincy Adams, in the 1991 inaugural issue of the Regent University Law Review. “This law has a determinate content, separating right from wrong, and defining justice, and most importantly…this law is binding upon man-it does not require his agreement or consent.” (Emphasis added.)

Kelly, the founding editor of the the law review,  was a little vague about what all was included in the “determinate content,” citing only the most obvious crime.

“Both God and nature stand in witness that murder is wrong,” he wrote.

But ordinary mortals can make some choices, Kelly argued.

“Neither Scripture nor nature, however, directly addresses whether import tariffs should be imposed, what the personal income tax rate ought to be, or how appeals should be prosecuted in the federal court system. In matters such as these, we are left to our discretion and mutual agreement,” he wrote.

Regent University was formerly was known as Christian Broadcasting Network University, was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, and was considered a mediocrity under both names.

Here is a bit more of Kelly’s introductory piece to the first issue of the law review.

The overarching mission of the Regent University Law Review is the same as that of Regent University, that is, to bring glory to God and to His Son, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit…

We believe that God’s law has something to say about every area of law. To the inevitable objection that the law of nature and nature’s God could not possibly have anticipated such topics as corporate taxation, antitrust suits, or the constitutional incorporation doctrine, I answer: Every legal question must rest on some foundational premise, and that premise must stand the test of measurement against the law of nature and nature’s God. Jesus illustrated the importance of foundations with relation to our faith…

Kelly wrote about the unchanging nature of scientific laws and compared it the laws of society. He cited that great thinker, Calvin Coolidge who observed that “[m]en do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness.”

In another section of his essay, Kelly wrote,

The law revealed in Scripture, with which the law of nature is in all points consistent, both having the same Author, is our ultimate recourse for truth….​We are, and must be, subject to the principles contained in Scripture. Just as we do not choose to submit to the general theory of relativity, so is consent unnecessary with regard to the general principles of Scripture, though when considered carefully, reason will show that it is only logical that we are subject to them.

And he concludes by quoting James 1:22:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “​To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and ​encouraging civic engagement in and debate ​about the judicial system and its operation.”

Categories: Court Watch, Politics

19 thoughts on “Court Watch: Walker Appointee Says God Decides Law”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    What the guy on the street corner warning that the end is near was too busy to serve on the Supreme Court? Did Walker ask Brother Ron?

  2. Rich says:

    Do the same people that voted for Scott Walker look at this and confidently think “Yes, that’s what I wanted to have happen”? If so, we’re all f***ed until more people start paying attention and voting.

  3. Dave K says:

    Is this the same guy that drives around Milwaukee with the loudspeakers and the signs all over his car?

  4. Frank Galvan says:

    Scooter, even after all of these years and all of his disasrerous descions, still has the capacity to surprise with what unbelievably bad decisions that he can make.

  5. Scott T says:

    It’s nice to read these amusing comments, but this is really scary stuff! It is bewildering in this day and age that a single “Governor” is able to impose a character like this onto our supreme court for what could be many years. That’s way too much power for a single individual to have. There should be a more democratic process for something this important. Kelly is a religious fanatic! His statements in this article are stark admission of partiality and bias to those who may or may not believe in his faith or concept of creation.

  6. Baruch says:

    The American Taliban strikes again. Walker and his christofascist minions need to be driven out of town…out of government. Why are these people tolerated? Oh right, they gerrymander to rig elections, and they prey upon the poor ignorant ultra religious to keep themselves in power. Pretty disgusting excuses for humanity.

  7. Jason says:

    It still amuse me that the founder of Urban Milwaukee, a skill journalist could let the cat out of the bag on the back door deals of the Democratic power structure that controlled Milwaukee County government. A Power structure that rammed through generous pension pay outs to screw the local tax payers for generations to come and to enriched themselves. Which led to the rise of one Scott Kevin Walker.

  8. Tom D says:

    This is the Christian equivalent of sharia law.

  9. Kevin Baas says:

    If you think that the more effective solution, then put your money where your mouth is and instead of voting, pray.

    I promise, no one will stand in your way.

  10. TJP says:

    Walker and gang never wanted someone with thinking skills, ethics or a real law degree. They just want to have him take the pen and sign.

  11. Jack says:

    Law directed from on high by mythical man in the sky.

    Dear Jesus, please save us from your followers

  12. John Casper says:

    Gretchen, many thanks.

    Wonder what Justice Kelly thinks of Matthew 5:

    29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

  13. John Casper says:

    Per Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 3:28, will Justice Kelly lead on LGBT rights?

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Will Justice Kelly side with those who want to nullify most Wisconsin divorces?

    Matthew 19:9 “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

    Old Testament/Hebrew scriptures make Peta look tepid on animal rights.

    “Under Jewish law, animals have some of the same rights as humans do. Animals rest on Shabbat, as humans do (Ex. 20:10). We are forbidden to muzzle an ox to prevent it from eating while it is working in the field (Deut. 25:4), just as we must allow human workers to eat from the produce they are harvesting (Deut. 23:25-26). Animals can partake of the produce from fields lying fallow during the sabbatical year (Ex. 23:11).”

    Will Justice Kelly side with those who want to close all the confinement factories that raise hogs? Virginia farmer, Joel Salatin, a very conservative Christian, made famous in Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dillemma” has a lot of good ideas about more humane pasturing of livestock.

    “How America’s most famous farmer can appeal to left, right and center”

    Does Justice Kelly know that Exodus 22:25 prohibits a big GOP benefactor, Payday lenders?

    “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.”

    Is Michael Eisenga, a major Wiscsonsin GOP donor, concerned about Justice Kelly? Eisenga would appear to be a two-time loser for a Bible thumping state Supreme Court Justice. He’s divorced, and made his fortune in Payday lending. He got the GOP legislature to rewrite state law to lower his child support payments.

    “GOP donor gets lawmaker to write bill to cut his child support”

    Is Justice Kelly open to bringing back slavery? Nowhere is it forbidden in the Bible. Pope Pius IX was officially neutral during the U.S. Civil War. Roman Catholics, who owned slaves were generous benefactors.

  14. John Casper says:

    Does Justice Kelly want to legalize discrimination against Jews?

    John 7:1 “After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.”

    Matthew 27: So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ 25 And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged3 Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.”

    When was the last time Justice Kelly visited someone in prison?

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For iI was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”

    What about laws prohibiting inheritance, does Justice Kelly favor those?

    Mark 10: 5 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Does Justice Kelly want to abolish Wisconsin prisons and for the state to provide more welfare?

    Matthew 5: 9 “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,8 let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

  15. Barbara says:

    Sounds like our Wisconsin Supreme Court is going to be keeping the Federal Supreme Court busy overturning its decisions. Unless, of course, the federal court gets stacked again too.

  16. Gary says:

    A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is considered a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (paraphrase from Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

    Go get ’em Wisconsin! Republicans will luv being in charge of the V-test.

  17. Virginia says:

    Jason, Bruce Murphy’s exposing of county backroom pension deals led to the demise of one county exec and several supervisors. The coincidental fact that longtime politician Scott Walker stepped in to wreak even worse havoc simply means citizens and journalists (of which there are fewer all the time) must remain ever vigilant.

    Are there sufficient paid journalists following our state Supreme Court deliberations? At least Ms. Schuldt and the Justice Initiative keeping watch.

    There have been egregious laws and court decisions throughout American history that undermined the U.S. constitution. Most eventually were overturned, but we are facing several now in Wisconsin. Having a religious fanatic on the state SC–joining others financed by the deep pockets of narrow right-wing interests–leaves the court in a precarious state.

    Our country’s founders very deliberately separated church and state. Justice Kelly has seen no need for such a separation since he studied at Christian Broadcasting Network/Regent University. It’s beyond scary.

  18. John Casper says:


    Is Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren Law a Democratic law firm? If so, why did Gov. Walker as County Exec bail them out and further injure taxpayers?

    “There were a couple of reasons for Walker’s resistance. One reason was pointed out by Bruce Murphy:
    He declined to pursue legal action against the Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren law firm for the advice it gave county officials on the pension plan. The head of the firm, back when Walker made this decision, was then state Republican chair Rick Graber, who had donated campaign money to Walker.”

    My understand is that without Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren as a co-defendant with Mercer, the case against Mercer was significantly weaker.

    Jason, didn’t Rick Graeber just take over the Bradley Foundation for the departing Mike Grebe?

  19. Joe says:

    Apart from Kelly’s ridiculous views on, uh, “natural” law, it’s high time the rules were changed so that judicial experience is required to be appointed to the State Supreme Court. At minimum such a requirement would provide a record of previous decision-making to scrutinize, rather than having to wade through 25 year old law review articles.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us