CV NEWS FEED // Progressive Judge Janet Protasiewicz on Tuesday beat conservative Judge Dan Kelly for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a significant defeat for pro-life advocates.
Commentators on both sides of the political aisle had called attention to the race as a high-stakes election that would determine the future of a number of hotly-contested issues in the Badger state, including school choice and legal protections for the unborn.
The race was one of the “most expensive” elections in any state, Politico reported last month, with pro-life groups and pro-abortion groups pouring millions of dollars” into it, “hoping their preferred candidate will win and either uphold or strike down the state’s 1849 abortion ban when it eventually reaches the state high court.”
Kelly, a former state Supreme Court justice, is an outspoken pro-life conservative. He was supported by pro-life organizations and commentators. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America spent $2 million in the race, including on TV and digital advertisements.
“These races are more important than ever thanks to the Dobbs decision,” SBA Pro-Life America Director of State Public Affairs Kelsey Pritchard told Politico last month. “If we have activist courts, we’re at risk of having mini Roe decisions across the country that would prevent the states from protecting unborn life.”
Protasiewicz, whom Politico described as a “vocal defender of abortion rights,” carried the endorsement of several pro-abortion organizations, as well as national Democratic leaders such as Hillary Clinton.
Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin advocacy arm, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin (PPAWI), endorsed Judge Protasiewicz. PPAWI Executive Director Steven Webb said he felt confident pro-abortion activists could “trust Judge Protasiewicz to uphold our values on the Supreme Court.”
The race stood out “as the most important election affecting abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade,” CatholicVote reported last week. “In the wake of that ruling, Wisconsin lawmakers immediately inherited a so-called ‘trigger law’ effectively banning all abortions.”
Wisconsin Democrats and abortion groups, however, “brought legal challenges against the abortion ban, which will inevitably be brought before the State Supreme Court.”
The court was “split between three conservative judges and three leftist judges,” said CatholicVote National Field Director Tommy Valentine ahead of election night. “Wisconsin’s abortion ban is going before the court, and whoever wins on April 4 will likely be the fourth vote for either life or abortion.”
In another election on the same night, leftist candidate Brandon Johnson defeated moderate Paul Vallas in a runoff election for the mayorship of Chicago. The runoff came after the removal of the controversial and unpopular Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose progressive politics and failure to curb the city’s violent crime rates left conservative and even moderate liberal commentators looking to Vallas for a sharper course-correction.
In a rally last week, Johnson promised to champion “the progressive movement” as mayor. “If we can figure it out in Chicago, we can figure it out anywhere in the world,” he said.
In a Tuesday night victory speech, Johnson pledged: “We get to turn the page on the politics of old.”