Madison, Wis. – Tuesday’s election could change the political trajectory of Wisconsin, tilting the perennial, ideological balance of the state’s Supreme Court for the first time in 15 years.
The race comes at a critical time in Wisconsin, with a challenge to the state’s civil war abortion ban already struggling to make its way to court and legal battles ahead of the next presidential election around the corner.
The stakes of the issue go beyond one. If the Liberals win the House for the first time since 2008, they are almost certain to listen challenge led to Wisconsin Republican redistricting boards that have helped cement conservative priorities for more than a decade.
Republicans are lining up the race in terms of what they stand to lose, as they argue that it includes key pillars of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s legation.
Abortion rights and gerrymandering
On a recent Saturday night, people lined up outside the Barrymore Theater on Madison Street for a live recording of the show “Pod Save America.” Army – a writer who worked for former President Barack Obama – holds a celebrity status in Madison, a Democratic stronghold that has proven critical to the state’s recent victories in Wisconsin.
This show is designed to turn the Democratic vote for Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz in her race against former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, a Republican favorite. (The runs for the Supreme Court in Wisconsin are officially nonpartisan, but that’s not how it works in practice).
In the first row before the open house, Ariel Hendrickson, a resident of Madison, said the choice boiled down to two things.
“Abortion rights and making sure gerrymandering doesn’t make things worse in our state,” Hendrickson said.
Abortion has been a major issue in Wisconsin since the US Supreme Court struck it down goat v. Wade Last summer, ruling that abortion was long dormant in 1849. first written, the Democrats have worked prominently in their ads for the state of the state for the past year and the campaign was Protasiewicz.
National spending records are broken
“I know people say this, but it’s probably one of the most important elections in Wisconsin,” said Sheila Hosseini, also of Madison. “Most importantly, reproductive rights are on the line.”
In a state like Wisconsin where elections are live, voters are used to hearing every two years — or in this case, every month — that the latest campaign is still more important.
But so much has actually been riding on the Wisconsin court this year that the bill might fit, said University of Wisconsin-Madison political science and law professor Howard Schweber.
“I have a consensus, I think this election really lives up to the hype,” says Schweber. “In the sense that the stakes are very high, the questions are extraordinarily wide-ranging.”
He poured double the money into the race, and by one estimate, tripled the old state records for spending on the state Supreme Court campaign.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the old record of $115.2 million was set in a 2004 Illinois Supreme Court race. The second center is tracking, nearly $29 million was spent on politicians in Wisconsin. another run tall According to Wisconsin political news site WisPolitics, the total spending in the race hit $45 million.
“It shows that Wisconsin just tends to be the center of the political universe,” said Anthony Chergosky, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. And it also shows that money is flowing into this height of the stake in the fight against abortion.goat v. Wade the politics of landscapes.
Some Republicans have been under scrutiny for more than a decade of GOP tactics
For Republican activists, the Supreme Court election is less about what they stand to gain and more about what they stand to lose.
At a Republican caucus in the Milwaukee suburb of Hale’s Corners, officials warned that the GOP’s long winning streak could be weakened if liberals win in court, including election laws like voter ID and laws that would strengthen gun ownership. rights
Former Gov. Walker’s signature law restricting union rights could also be in jeopardy if the court flips it, according to Orville Seymer, a longtime Republican activist. Judge Janet Protasiewicz was among the tens of thousands who marched against the law in 2011. He also signed a petition against Walker.
“All of that doesn’t appear on the ballot, but it’s actually on the ballot,” Seymer said at the GOP event. “The people should vote on these things. And the people here in this room — the conservative people — want to affirm that.”
While everyone else seems to put race in the court’s statements, Kelly has notably avoided them.
“If I’m going to start talking about my political views, that would be no more relevant to this nation than who I think the next quarterback of the Packers should be,” he said at a Milwaukee Press Club forum in March.
As a private attorney, Kelly once defended Republican legislative bills in federal court, and recent clients have included state and national Republican parties. Kelly offered legal advice to the state after the 2020 presidential election when Republicans used fake voters in former President Donald Trump’s narrow loss in Wisconsin.
It’s not that Kelly never shared her views. About a decade ago, Kelly wrote in a blog that abortion took a man’s life, and wrote a passage in a book comparing affirmative action to slavery.
He says it’s inappropriate for a judicial candidate to share his political views when the law applies to a judge’s job.
“I would argue that it is the most odious Supreme Court decision in the history of the country,” Kelly said. “Because it’s not an innovative office. It’s not innovative.”
Protasiewicz says voters want to hear where the candidates stand
Protasiewicz, who spent decades as a prosecutor and judge in Milwaukee County, has no hesitation when it comes to sharing his opinions; especially abortion.
During a short interview in America’s safe poolProtasiewicz was asked what kind of difference he could make if he chose to go to court.
“It was me, it’s very proven that I personally value women’s right to choose,” Protasiewicz said. “Reproductive choices are personal.”
Asked about Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative districts, which are the majority of the House’s conservatives They liked the yearProtasiewicz behaved similarly.
“Our maps are rigged at this point,” he said. “Of course it would be most welcome to look at our new tables.”
For Democrats this season, a Supreme Court race means everything. For most liberals in the House and the new maps, their hope is that they can eventually push state politics to the left like Minnesota and neighboring Michigan.
That perspective helped Protasiewicz These candidates have fundraising recordsdrawing from a network of Democratic donors around the country and a few wealthy donors, such as George Soros and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, who has made millions in donations to the state Democratic Party.
The Conservatives fared badly in the early stages but recently closed the funding gap. The state’s largest business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and a group funded by GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, have attacked Protasiewicz for more than $10 million in additions to soft crime.
Both parties have also registered this race in presidential terms, because whichever party wins will have a majority in the presidential race before 2024. That’s how they’ll get to hearing election cases in Wisconsin, which makes each campaign feel a little more difficult than the last.