Liberal Milwaukee Judge Janet Protasiewicz won Tuesday’s high-stakes Wisconsin Supreme Court election — ending 15 years of conservative control in the state’s high court with key rulings on abortion rights and redistricting on the horizon.
Protasiewicz’s victory against former Justice Daniel Kelly ensures that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be controlled 4-3 by liberal judges.
With 75% of the vote in, the Associated Press called the race for Protasiewicz, who had received 55.41% of the vote compared to Kelly’s 44.59%.
The state’s high court is expected to rule on a pending lawsuit challenging the state’s 1849 law outlawing abortion.
While refusing to say how she would rule in the case, abortion was a focus of Protasiewicz’s campaign, and her pro-abortion rights views won her the backing of Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups.
“If my opponent is elected, I can tell you with 100% certainty, that 1849 abortion ban will stay on the books. I can tell you that,” Protasiewicz said during a debate last month, during which she also noted her personal support for abortion rights and touted her endorsement.
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is also expected to hear a challenge to Republican-drawn legislative maps, which Protasiewicz has signaled she would be in favor of redrawing – calling the current maps “rigged” on the campaign trail.
The race for the coveted court seat saw record-levels of campaign spending for a state judicial contest.
Spending in this year’s race reached $28.8 million, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit law and public policy group, shattering the previous record of $15.4 million in a 2004 Illinois contest.
About $8 million of Protasiewicz’s donations were from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which received a high-dollar donation from billionaire financier George Soros last month, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
On Feb. 22, Soros donated $1 million to state Democrats, according to the outlet. The billionaire has drawn scrutiny for using vast sums of his fortune to bankroll the campaigns of far-left justices across the country.
“George Soros is putting up big $$$ to elect radical candidate Janet Protasiewicz for WI Supreme Court,” the state’s former Republican Gov. Scott Walker said in a tweet last week.
“As a judge, she has let criminals off with little or no prison time. Yet, she makes it clear that she will impose her radical agenda on WI if she is elected on Tuesday,” he added.
Protasiewicz will begin her 10-year term in August, replacing the retiring conservative Justice Pat Roggensack.
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