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Liberals Gain Majority on Wisconsin Supreme Court

AP Photo/Alex Sanz

Voters in Wisconsin, as one of the minority of states that elect their judges, chose on Tuesday night to send Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court, giving liberals a majority for the first time in 15 years. Although Wisconsin is one of 13 states that selects judges through nonpartisan elections, Judge Protasiewicz had support from Democrats, while her opponent, former Justice Daniel Kelly, was supported by Republicans. 


Decision Desk called the race shortly before 10:00pm ET, or 9:00pm CT. The poll had closed at 8:00pm CT in Wisconsin. With an estimated 70 percent of the vote in, Protasiewicz has 55.71 percent of the vote to Kelly's 44.29 percent of the vote. 

The amount of support she received surprised Protasiewicz, or so she claimed when speaking with the Associated Press. "I feel great. I could not feel better," Protasiewicz told the outlet about her win. "I am surprised of the results and the magnitude of the victory here. We are absolutely delighted and thrilled."

Protasiewicz, who had received support from liberal groups, such as Planned Parenthood, made the abortion issue a major part of her campaign. The Associated Press indeed focused on it when covering her win:

The new court controlled 4-3 by liberals is expected to decide a pending lawsuit challenging the state’s 1849 law banning abortion. Protasiewicz made the issue a focus of her campaign and won the support of Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups.


Protasiewicz largely focused her campaign around abortion, saying she supports abortion rights but stopping short of saying how she would rule on a pending lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 174-year-old ban that was enacted a year after statehood. She called Kelly an “extreme partisan” and claimed that if he wins, Kelly would uphold the ban. Kelly has not said how he would rule.


Protasiewicz is replacing retiring Justice Pat Roggensack, who serves as part of the court's current 4-3 majority for the conservatives before it flips to a liberal majority once Protasiewicz is sworn in. 

Kelly was appointed by then Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in 2016, but lost when on the ballot in 2020. 

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