By Karen Stokes
Janet Protasiewicz, a judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, has won a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Judge Janet Protasiewicz, defeated conservative Dan Kelly, by 11 percentage points. It’s his second loss in a race for Supreme Court in three years.
In a narrowly divided Wisconsin, a one seat edge is all the majority needs to change the state’s politics. This is the first time in 15 years that liberals have a majority on the state’s highest court.
“Wisconsin! We did it! Thank you all for being here tonight to ring in this victory! Today’s results have been over a year in the making, and I could not have done it without the hard work and dedication of all of you here and countless others,” Protasiewicz said Tuesday night.
Justices will most likely hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban and with a liberal majority, they’re likely to consider a lawsuit that could overturn Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative maps.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice race was the most expensive judicial election in US history. More than $40 million was spent on the contest, according to Forbes.
Politicians, activists and news sources across America were also paying close attention to this race.
The New York Times stated that the race for Wisconsin’s high court has been referred to as the most important election in America in 2023.
Eric Holder, the 82nd Attorney General of the United States and Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) endorsed Janet Protasiewicz and he participated in a series of fundraisers.
In a statement Holder said, “So today, I not only want to congratulate Judge Janet Protasiewicz, but I also want to congratulate all Wisconsinites for their tireless work and tenacity. Despite the fact that, for more than a decade, Wisconsin Republicans have put in place multiple structural barriers to fair representation, including a gerrymandered legislature, voter suppression laws, and a conservative court majority that was wildly out of step with the public, the people did not give up. And that is an important lesson for how democracy can ultimately win in this ever enduring fight.“
State Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison), Senate Democratic Leader, released the following statement: “Yesterday, Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated conservative Dan Kelly by a resounding margin in Wisconsin, a purple state where statewide elections are often decided by mere percentage points. This election served as a referendum on the unilateral control legislative Republicans have relished over the last decade. For years, the GOP’s actions have been out of touch, policies unpopular, and representatives unaccountable to the voters. Wisconsinites said no more. It’s time to restore representative democracy in Wisconsin.”
Judge Protasiewicz’s victory assures that liberals will hold a majority on the court ahead of next year’s presidential election. Wisconsin is a swing state and it’s expected to be crucial in the race for the White House. If election lawsuits are filed in state court, Protasiewicz will be one of the seven justices who will have the final say.
Justice-elect Protasiewicz delivered remarks to supporters at Saint Kate Hotel in Milwaukee Tuesday evening.
“I care deeply about this state – it’s been my home for my entire life. And I care deeply about all of you, the people of Wisconsin. The only client I have ever served throughout my 35-year career in the law. I knew the people of Wisconsin expected and deserved more from their Supreme Court.”
“You have entrusted me with great responsibility and I will treat this role with the highest degree of integrity. I will bring the fairness and impartiality that you all have been waiting for. And I will be a part of the solution to make our Supreme Court something that you all feel proud of and protected by.”