On April 5, 2023, Janet Protasiewicz, a Democrat, won the Supreme Court election in Wisconsin. This election was very important, with abortion access and election laws at stake in this swing state. Democrat Janet Protasiewicz won the Supreme Court election, shifting control in favor of the left.
Breaking expenditure records for state judicial elections was the battle of Milwaukee County circuit court Judge Protasiewicz versus Republican Daniel Kelly, a former state Supreme Court justice, with Judge Protasiewicz prevailing.
The victor’s triumph is anticipated to bring a stop to Republican dominance in the state after more than a decade of deep-seated political strife. The next few months will see the state’s supreme court decide on whether or not to uphold Wisconsin’s statute from 1849 which forbids abortion in most situations.
The court stands at 4-3 in favor of the conservatives, but that majority was in jeopardy following the resignation of conservative Justice Patience Roggensack.
In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court justices are directly elected, giving the winner a 10-year term. Judge elections there are nominally bipartisan, but political parties have little doubt about which candidate they support.
This year’s race expenses had reached $28.8 million as of March 29th, a record for state litigation spending. The upcoming decision on the abortion ban statute will hold immense significance, and the state Supreme Court will likely decide on its suitability this fall.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is well-poised to play a decisive role in determining the outcome of any legal disputes that may arise during the 2024 election.
Thus, last year, the court declared that no one may personally return a ballot on behalf of another voter, banning the usage of the majority of ballot drop boxes.
Democrats viewed the election as a chance to end Republican dominance in Wisconsin. Their winning streak started with Governor Scott Walker’s 2010 election, which was followed by the passage of union-busting laws and Republican-drawn state legislative districts to practically guarantee GOP majorities. These plans were approved by a state Supreme Court, which has been dominated by conservatives since 2008.
In 2018, Walker was defeated by Democratic Governor Tony Evers in his bid for a third term. However, Evers is constrained by the Republican-led legislature, and the conservative Supreme Court has broken ranks on issues such as its decision in 2022 to use Republican-drawn legislative maps, rather than Evers’ maps, during the regular redistricting process.
Republican commentators called out the Democrats’ tactics, specifically a group called “Wisconsin Takes Action.” Wisconsin Takes Action offered $250 to voters to sway their friends to vote for Democrat Janet Protasiewicz through an app named “Empower”.
In a debate last month, Protasiewicz stated that she was “making no promises” about her judicial philosophy, but that she personally supported abortion rights, and pro-abortion rights organizations endorsed her.
At Protasiewicz’s victory party, she told her supporters that her win “has obviously reignited hope in so many of us.”
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