Liberal Wins Wisconsin Court Race, in Victory for Abortion Rights Backers
This is a huge win for Democrats in Wisconsin.
MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin voters voted Tuesday to change the political direction of the state. They elected a liberal candidate for the State Supreme Court. This result flipped majority control from the conservatives, according The Associated Press. This means that the court will likely reverse Wisconsin's ban on abortion and stop the use of gerrymandered legislative mapping drawn by Republicans in the coming year.
Janet Protasiewicz was a Milwaukee County judge who defeated Daniel Kelly, an ex-Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and conservative who wanted to return to the bench. Judge Protasiewicz won by 14 percentage points with more than 60 percent of the votes being counted. This was the most expensive American judicial election, with over $40 million spent.
Judge Protasiewicz (60) shattered long-held beliefs about how judges should conduct themselves. She made her political priorities central in her campaign. She declared her support for abortion rights, and called the maps that gave Republicans close-to-supermajority control over the Legislature, 'rigged and unfair.'
The 10-year term she was elected to for an official nonpartisan seat gives Wisconsin's Liberals a 4-to-3 majority at the court. Since 2008, conservatives have controlled it. Liberals will have a majority on the court until at least 2025 when a liberal justice's term ends. The term of a conservative justice ends in 2026.
The race was described in high spirits by the candidates and their supporters during the final days.
After voting in Franklin, a Milwaukee suburb, on Tuesday morning, Judge Protasiewicz stated that "Everything we care about" was on the line. "Everything we care about, from our democracy to begin with, our gerrymandered map, the women's ability make their own decisions regarding health care, all of it is at stake," Protasiewicz said.
Justice Kelly, 59 years old, ended his campaign by flying to seven stops in Wisconsin on a private plane that was owned by a conservative donor, who has supported anti-abortion groups. He told supporters at a rally on Monday in Waukesha that if Judge Protasiewicz were elected, she would usurp the authority of the democratically elected and Republican-controlled Legislature.
He stated that "This election will decide whether or not our constitutional form will continue,"
Judge Protasiewicz calculated that Wisconsin voters would reward the fact that she made clear her positions regarding abortion rights and maps of Wisconsin -- the most important issues likely to motivate and energize the Democratic Party base - from the beginning of her campaign.
In an interview with Judge Protasiewicz, Tuesday, before the results were announced, she said that her campaign success was due to her decision to inform voters about her values. Justice Kelly used less detail about his positions.
She stated that she would prefer to let people know my values than to read between the lines. "We'll see tonight whether the electorate appreciates my candor or not.
The court has been an important backstop for Wisconsin Republicans over the past dozen years. It was certified as constitutional governor. It was certified as constitutional governor.
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin was the only court in the country that agreed to hear President Donald J. Trump’s challenge to the 2020 presidential election. Trump wanted to invalidate 200,000 ballots in the two largest Democratic counties of Wisconsin. On a 4-to-3 vote by the Wisconsin court, Trump's claim was rejected. One of the conservative justices sided with the court on procedural grounds.
This key vote was crucial in this year's court race. The justices will be weighing in on voting issues and other election issues related to the 2024 election. Wisconsin, the state where Donald Trump's victory in 2016 ended a string of Democratic Presidential victories dating back to 1988 is expected to be a key battleground state.
In matters that were not widely covered outside of the state, the court has represented the interests of Republicans.
A year after Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat who succeeded Mr. Walker in 2020, conservative justices agreed that his line-item veto power, which had been used by generations of Wisconsin governors from both sides, would be limited. Over Mr. Evers's objection, the conservative court allowed a Walker appointee to continue in office last year.
After Judge Protasiewicz takes her seat on the court, the first priority for Wisconsin Democrats is to file a case challenging the current legislative maps that have given Republicans almost unbreakable control over the state government in Madison.
Jeffrey A. Mandell is the president of Law Forward. He has represented Mr. Evers and said that he would file a request for the Supreme Court's consideration of a redistricting case within the hour after Judge Protasiewicz has seated.
In an interview with Mr. Mandell on Tuesday, he stated that 'Pretty much all the problems in Wisconsin flow from the gerrymandering.' The highest priority is to fix the gerrymander, reverse extreme partisan Gerrymandering.
Josh Kaul, Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general, has already challenged the state's 1849 abortion ban. This was seven decades before women were allowed to vote. A Dane County circuit court scheduled oral arguments for Mr. Kaul's case this week for May 4. However, regardless of how a county judge decides, the case will almost certainly be appealed to the State Supreme Court in the latter part of the year.