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Informational Tour Kicks Off for WI Supreme Court Race

Wisconsin US state flag with statue of lady justice and judicial scales in dark room. Concept of judgement and punishment
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Advocates and activists from both the liberal and conservative sides are trying to encourage voter turnout for the upcoming state Supreme Court race, given the impact the outcome will have on the court's ideological balance.

Wisconsin's primary election is two weeks away, and a high-profile state Supreme Court race is on the ballot.

Several advocacy groups are behind a campaign to educate voters with the hopes of hearing from candidates at public forums.

Political analysts say this race could alter the ideological balance of the court. Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority, but the primary features two liberal candidates, along with two conservatives.

Timothy Cordon, chief organizer of the Wisconsin Tour for Justice and Democracy, which will visit regions around the state during the primary and up until the April vote, said they are not endorsing anyone, but added they feel responses are needed for certain topics.

"Issues like reproductive justice, defending our democracy, upholding fair maps - things like that," Cordon outlined.

The maps he cited are political boundaries from redistricting, and Wisconsin's maps have often led to court fights over gerrymandering concerns. The group's tour kicks off today with forums scheduled for Saturday in Milwaukee and a week later in Racine.

Cordon noted if candidates do not appear, they hope to have written comments for the public in a town-hall-style event.

The tour came together under the umbrella of the Building Unity initiative, which works with several groups.

Cordon explained the coalition is nonpartisan when it comes to candidates, but he acknowledged they take policy stances often aligned with progressives. He insisted with the urgency behind some issues, there should not be a political tag.

"We are in terribly dire straits, and if we don't come together as humans who love our children and want to pass on a livable world, we're very likely going to lose the opportunity, and it'll be too late," Cordon contended.

As for abortion access, the state's high court could eventually decide Wisconsin's decades-old ban, which came to light after federal protections were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judicial races are technically nonpartisan, but political overtones have become more pronounced. Cordon stressed voters have the right to hear from candidates about pressing matters, which he said also include election policy after the fallout from the 2020 presidential vote.

Other forums are likely to be scheduled as the tour moves forward.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.