Wisconsin Supreme Court Balance Flips 4-3 as Liberal Protasiewicz Joins Bench in Key Battleground State

MADISON, WISCONSIN - August 1: Janet Protasiewicz, 60, is sworn in for her position as a S
Sara Stathas for The Washington Post via Getty

Democrats gained the upper hand on the Wisconsin Supreme Court this month as a liberal justice, Janet Protasiewicz, begins a 10-year term, flipping the balance of that court to a partisan 4-3 advantage in a key battleground state both for the White House and control of the U.S. Senate.

Justice Protasiewicz was sworn in on August 1, 2023, as the newest member of Wisconsin’s highest court, after winning a statewide election on April 4. Formerly a Milwaukee County judge, she is widely seen as a leftwing Democrat, outspoken in support of abortion and redrawing legislative districts in a way that would give Democrats an advantage in upcoming elections, which she argues about in a nakedly political manner that sounds more like a candidate for legislative office.

Her election ensures liberal control of Wisconsin’s highest court for two years, through the next election for the presidency, as well as control of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and control of the Wisconsin legislature, until 2025, when the seat of another liberal, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, will be on the ballot for a 10-year term.

Conservatives have won many fights in the Wisconsin Supreme Court over the past 15 years. Contrary to what establishment media outlets have claimed, that court has not had a conservative majority, because Justice Brian Hagedorn — a Republican who ran as a conservative — has proven to be a fair-weather conservative, an unreliable vote when there is enough criticism from liberal talking heads. But none of the liberal justices are similarly timid, so there is unquestionably a solid left-oriented majority on that court now.

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Republican-backed Dan Kelly and Democratic-supported Janet Protasiewicz participate in a debate on March 21, 2023, in Madison, Wis. (AP)

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has called on Protasiewicz to recuse herself from abortion challenges, given her public remarks on the issue. There are recent U.S. Supreme Court cases — such as Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. (2009) — holding that the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment requires a judge to recuse when the judge has demonstrated bias on an issue. Similar due process objections to her involvement could be raised over the upcoming redistricting fight as well.

Protasiewicz’s election endangers a host of other issues important to conservatives. For example, she was heavily supported by the hardline gun control organization Everytown, which expects her to rule against Second Amendment rights in the Badger State. Other hot-button issues that the Wisconsin court might decide over the next two years include voter ID, labor union power, and school choice for parents.

Millions of dollars of leftwing dark money from out of state flooded into the race, propelling Protasiewicz to victory. Republicans continue to call out Democrat hypocrisy on that issue, as money from authoritarian billionaires such as George Soros — now controlled by his zealously leftwing son, Alex Soros — funneled through Arabella Advisors and other conduits continue to vastly exceed conservative dollars in election campaigns nationwide.

Ken Klukowski is a Breitbart News senior legal contributor.


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