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Judge Janet Protasiewicz wins Wisconsin Supreme Court race, giving liberals majority

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz

A Democratic-backed Milwaukee judge won the high stakes Wisconsin Supreme Court race Tuesday, ensuring liberals will take over majority control of the court for the first time in 15 years with the fate of the state’s abortion ban pending.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated former Justice Dan Kelly, who previously worked for Republicans and had support from the state’s leading anti-abortion groups. It’s his second loss in a race for Supreme Court in three years.

The new court controlled 4-3 by liberals is expected to decide a pending lawsuit challenging the state’s 1849 law banning abortion. Protasiewicz made the issue a focus of her campaign and won the support of Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups.

The court is also expected to hear a new challenge to Republican-drawn legislative maps. Protasiewicz ran as a critic of the current maps, calling them “rigged.”

The court came within one vote of overturning President Joe Biden’s win in the state in 2020, and both major parties are preparing for another close race in 2024.

With so much at stake, the race became the most expensive contest for a state Supreme Court seat in U.S. history. Protasiewicz will begin her 10-year term in August. She replaces retiring conservative Justice Pat Roggensack.

The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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