Former President Barack Obama is encouraging Wisconsin voters to vote early in the race for the state Supreme Court position, which will determine which party holds a majority in the state’s highest court.
In this critical race, former conservative state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly is running against liberal Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz to fill the seventh seat on the court. It is currently split 3-3 after the retirement of conservative Justice Patience Roggensack.
On the first day of early voting, Obama tweeted, “It’s going to be close, so don’t wait until April 4th. Make a plan to vote today and encourage your family and friends to do the same.”
Important political cases are expected to come before the court, including an abortion ban dating back to 1849. Governance of abortion has returned to state legislatures and courts after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. This current law makes abortion a felony, except to save the life of the mother.
Janet Protasiewicz strongly supports abortion access, while Dan Kelly has not spoken publicly on the topic. Kelly has received support from several prominent anti-abortion groups. However, neither candidate has indicated specifically how they would rule in an abortion case.
Another significant issue for the candidates is the state’s redistricting maps. Protasiewicz believes the Wisconsin legislative and congressional maps have issues, and she believes the court should intervene. But Kelly believes the court should not have a role in redistricting maps.
Kelly said, “The way you draw those lines is almost wholly political, except that there are some legal requirements you have to meet. We’ll leave the political questions to the state legislature, where they belong.”
Tuesday marks the primary day state residents can vote in the race. Polls are open until April 4.
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