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Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Carries Big Implications for Abortion and 2024 Election

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Voters in Wisconsin will soon head to the polls to vote for a new state Supreme Court justice.

Conservative justices currently hold a 4-3 majority on the high court, and Democrats are looking to flip it. 

In other states, voters have been able to weigh in on state issues like abortion through ballot measures. In Wisconsin, however, laws can only be overturned by the state legislature or the Supreme Court. Both have been under Republican control for more than a decade. 

slider img 2On April 4, voters will get a say in many important issues in the state by voting to fill the open Supreme Court seat with either Republican Daniel Kelly or Democrat Janet Protasiewicz.

With key cases poised to appear before the state's highest court, the outcome of the race could have implications on issues from redistricting and voting rights, to deciding whether abortions will be permitted within state boundaries. 

Since the primary campaigns began, groups on both sides have been pouring money into the contest. Now, the general election is expected to become the most expensive state supreme court race ever. 

"We invested six figures in the primary. That primarily went to voter outreach through calls, texts, mailers. We're going to have an even bigger investment this time around that we'll be announcing in the next few days," said Kelsey Pritchard, director of State Public Affairs for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.

As her organization makes a major push for Kelly, Pritchard says now is the time for pro-life groups to take action.

"We're at risk of having many Roe decisions that nullify the laws on the books that save lives and protect the unborn. And so it's really crucial that we be engaged in these races going forward," Pritchard told CBN News.

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While Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates may take conservative or liberal positions, court seats are officially non-partisan. 

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, says the key for voters is to choose the candidate who will uphold the Constitution, rather than legislate from the bench.

"We see a real contrast there with one judge saying, 'I'm going to vote for change in Wisconsin,' trying to change the abortion law, trying to change the state redistricting. Whereas Judge Kelly is committed to saying, 'No, we need to be looking at what the law says and making sure we're enforcing what the law says,'" Severino explained.

Also in jeopardy pending the outcome of this election are laws enacted when Republicans had full control of the government. Laws like former Republican Gov. Scott Walker's signature legislation, known as Act 10. The measure eliminated collective bargaining abilities for most public employees. 

"Unfortunately 'No Jail Janet' and her allies have gone out and essentially she's making promises to people about what her values are. They're going to get rid of our Act 10 reforms, they're going to get rid of prohibitions on abortion, protecting the sanctity of life," Walker told CBN News.

Protasiewicz has also signaled support for re-drawing congressional boundary lines, a move Walker says could have national implications. 

"They could gerrymander it in a way where at least one, maybe two of those House Republicans from Wisconsin could get bumped out of a seat. If they do that in a tough election, in 2024, where every member of the House is up for re-election, that could affect who holds the majority in the future," said Walker.

Both candidates are expecting record voter turnout in the general election on April 4. 

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT