Wisconsin Supreme Court Goes Leftward With Swearing in of Progressive Justice

Earlier this month, Janet Protasiewicz was sworn in as a justice to Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. Protasiewicz’s ascendance to this position was the result of an April election that ended up becoming the highest spending judicial race in United States history. Campaigns and interest groups dropped over $50 million in this race.

Protasiewicz previously served as a Milwaukee County judge.  She won her race by 11 points effectively flipping control of the court to grant liberals a 4-3 majority.  She was sworn in to her new position on August 1. On the campaign trail, she was vocal about her support for abortion rights and opposition to allegedly “rigged” maps that have given Republicans sizeable majorities in the state legislature.

A few days after Protasiewicz was sworn into office, the new majority removed duties from Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, the court’s conservative chief justice, and fired its administrative director. The court’s administrative director is a conservative former judge who previously ran for the court. These significant changes caused the chief justice to accuse her liberal colleagues of carrying out “nothing short of a coup.” Republican elected officials in the state soon threatened to impeach Protasiewicz .

Liberal groups have pounced on the court’s new majority by filing lawsuits in an attempt to redraw the state’s legislative districts, which tend to favor Republicans. In a similar vein, the Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has taken advantage of this court shift to expedite a case challenging a 19th-century law that barred doctors from carrying out abortions in Wisconsin.

“It’s an absolute seismic shift in Wisconsin policy and politics,” declared C.J. Szafir, the chief executive of the Institute for Reforming Government — a conservative non-profit based in Wisconsin. “We’re about to usher in a very progressive state Supreme Court, the likes that we have not seen in quite some time. And it’s really going to change how everything operates.”

When conservative Justice Patience Roggensack announced her retirement in 2022, the stakes grew very high as Wisconsin is viewed as a pivotal swing state that could cast key votes in determining the winner of the 2024 presidential election. Conservatives held control of the court for 15 years. In this timeframe, the court upheld voter ID legislation, approved anti-public sector union measures, prohibited absentee ballot drop boxes, and threw a wrench in campaign finance probes into Republicans.

Due to the heightened degree of polarization at all levels of government, state supreme courts have witnessed their powers increase significantly as they now decide key issues such as election results and abortion policies.

In Kaul’s case, he recently asked a trial judge to expeditiously rule on an abortion rights lawsuit  that could potentially get the case to the State Supreme Court faster. Liberal attorneys are expected in the upcoming months and years to file lawsuits with respect to voter ID, school vouchers, union powers, and a 2018 law that restricted the powers of Kaul and Governor Tony Evers.

Wisconsin’s politics will undoubtedly get more heated in the years to come. This is a state that only went to Joe Biden against Donald Trump by a 49.45%-48.82% vote in the 2020 presidential election. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by a 47.22%-46.45% vote against Hilary Clinton. This is the archetypical swing state. 

If the Right wants to put Wisconsin permanently in the nationalist column they need to be dialed in at all levels of government and push for policies — tougher measures against criminals, immigration restriction, and purging schools of leftist degeneracy — that advance the interests of disgruntled Middle Americans. 

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