Liberals will win control of Wisconsin Supreme Court, CNN projects
(CNN) Democrat-backed Janet Protasiewicz is set to win Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race, CNN projects, swinging majority control in favor of liberals in what could be the year’s most important election on abortion access. election rules and more online in key swing state.
Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County District Court judge, will defeat conservative Daniel Kelly, a former state Supreme Court justice, in a race that shattered records for state judicial election spending. Her victory is likely to break an era of Republican dominance in a state that has been mired in political conflict for more than a decade.
The race was a critical gauge of whether the abortion issue is motivating voters nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The state Supreme Court is poised to decide a legal battle in the coming months over Wisconsin’s 1849 law that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances.
Conservatives currently have a 4-3 majority on the court. But the retirement of conservative Justice Patience Roggensack put that majority at risk.
Wisconsin is one of 14 states that directly elects Supreme Court justices, and the winners receive 10-year terms. Judicial races there are nominally nonpartisan, but political parties leave little doubt about which candidates they support. Spending in this year’s race — which totaled $28.8 million as of March 29, according to the Brennan Center — has far surpassed the previous record for spending in a state judicial contest: $15.4 million in a 2004 Illinois race. .
Democrats saw the race as an opportunity to end the Republican dominance in Wisconsin that began with the election of Gov. Scott Walker in 2010 — a victory that was followed by the passage of union-busting laws and state legislative districts drawn for him. effectively secured a GOP majority, all green-lighted by a state Supreme Court where conservatives have held the majority since 2008.
Walker lost his bid for a third term to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in 2018. But Evers has been thwarted by the Republican-led Legislature, with the conservative Supreme Court breaking ties on issues such as a 2022 ruling during one per decade. the redistricting process in favor of using legislative maps drawn by Republicans instead of those presented by Evers. The decision cemented a solid Republican majority in the state legislature.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is also positioned to play a critical role in determining how the 2024 election plays out and resolving disputes that arise.
The court played a key role in the outcome of Wisconsin’s 2020 election: The justices voted 4-3, with conservative Brian Hagedorn joining the court’s three liberals, to strike down former President Donald Trump’s efforts to throw votes in districts democratically inclined. And last year, the court banned the use of most ballot boxes and ruled that no one can return a ballot in person on behalf of another voter.
But the most immediate battle likely to reach the courts as early as this fall is over Wisconsin’s 1849 law that bans abortion in almost all circumstances.
Groups on both sides of the abortion divide poured large sums into the race and tried to mobilize voters ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Although both candidates declined to say how they would decide on the issue, they left little doubt about their leanings.
In a debate last month, Protasiewicz said she was “not making promises” about how she would rule. But she also noted her personal support for abortion rights, as well as endorsements from pro-abortion rights groups. And she noted Kelly’s endorsement of Wisconsin Right to Life, which opposes abortion rights.
“If my opponent is elected, I can tell you with 100% certainty, the 1849 abortion ban will remain on the books. I can tell you that,” Protasiewicz said.
Kelly, who has done legal work for Wisconsin Right to Life, fired back, saying Protasiewicz’s comments were “absolutely untrue.”
“You don’t know what I’m thinking about that abortion ban,” he said. “You have no idea. These things you don’t know.”