MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court will switch from majority-conservative to liberal control in August, and Democrats have high hopes the change will result in the state’s abortion ban being overturned Maps redrawn Weakening of GOP control of the legislature and congressional districts.
Democrats in the Eternal Battleground State focused on abortion to elect a liberal majority for the court for the first time in 15 years. The Democratic Party spent $8 million to win the court’s conservative 4-3 majority by electing Janet Protasiewicz, who campaigned for abortion rights and opposed the Republican map, to one seat. Her victory in April broke national spending records for a race in the state Supreme Court.
Still, there are no guarantees. republican were upset As it turned out, a conservative candidate they backed in 2019 sometimes sided with liberal judges.
While the court is widely expected to rule on abortion and redistribution, Liberals are also talking about new school choice challenges, voter ID, the 12-year-old law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most state employees, and other legislation Republicans support.
“Not knowing the magnitude of the fight you may have to fight is worrying,” said attorney Rick Esenberg, president of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. “It’s very worrying.”
It could be years before some matters reach the court, said liberal attorney Lester Pines, who, like Esenberg, has argued before the state Supreme Court on multiple occasions. Unlike under the Conservative majority, the new Liberal court is unlikely to rule on cases before lower courts have heard them, Pines said.
“You won’t do it,” Pines said.
There is already a pending case against Wisconsin’s pre-Civil War abortion ban and a district court judge decided earlier this month that it can continue, but also questions whether the law actually prohibits abortions.
The case is expected to reach the Supreme Court within months. Protasiewicz all but promised to lift the ban, repeatedly arguing in favor of it abortion rightsand gained support from Planned Parenthood and others.
“If you’re a politician and voters perceive you as making a promise and you don’t keep it, they get angry,” Esenberg said.
There is currently no district redistribution lawsuit, but Democrats or their allies are expected to file a new challenge this summer to seek new districts ahead of the 2024 election.
The State Supreme Court confirmed the maps drawn by Republicans in 2022. These cards are widely considered to be one of the roam the country the mosthave helped Republicans expand their grip on the legislature to near-supermajority, even as Democrats have won statewide elections, including Tony Evers as governor in 2018 and 2022 and Joe Biden in 2020.
Protasizewicz called these maps “manipulated” and said they should be checked again during the campaign. Democrats are also hoping for new congressional tickets that will improve their odds in the state’s two most competitive representative districts, held by Republicans.
“We want to see maps that are fair and reflect the will of the people and the actual composition of their state,” said Democratic strategist Melissa Baldauff.
Four of the last six Wisconsin presidential elections have been won by less than a percentage point. The outgoing Conservative court could have overturned Biden’s victory in 2020 by just one vote. The new court will have scrutiny over all challenges leading up to the election and in the months that follow.
This includes voting rules. Courts have repeatedly upheld Wisconsin’s voter ID requirements since 2011, but some Democrats see an opportunity to challenge them again, particularly over which IDs are legal to show. There’s one too impending fight through the chief election officer of the state.
“It seems to me that the most momentous issues that could come before the new court have to do with elections,” said Alan Ball, a history professor at Marquette University Law School who blogs about statistical analysis of the court and judges’ tendencies.
Given the comments Protasiewicz made during the campaign, “It’s really hard for me to imagine that she wouldn’t side with the Liberals on these issues,” Ball said.
A national democratic law firm filed a lawsuit on Thursday to reverse a ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court last year that banned mail-in ballot boxes. The case could make it to the state Supreme Court before the 2024 presidential election.
Other thorny issues that have drawn bipartisan criticism, including the governor’s powers, could also come before the new court.
Evers surprised many With a veto this year, a 400-year increase in school spending was introduced. Republicans said a challenge was likely.
In 2021, the court rejected three of Evers’ previous partial vetoes, but failed to provide clear guidance as to what is permissible.
A Wisconsin governor’s veto power is wide-ranging and used by Republicans and Democrats alike, but the new court may consider limiting it. Esenberg, who brought the previous case against Evers’ veto right, said he expects another legal challenge given the 400-year veto.
This story corrects the name in paragraph 6 to Lester Pines.