Roe v. Wade Fallout Sets Stakes For WI Attorney General Race

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

By Joe Zepecki

May 6, 2022

The 2022 elections for Governor and U.S. Senate are top of mind for many voters in Wisconsin. But the fallout from last week’s news regarding the looming U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade is sure to elevate interest in Wisconsin’s race for Attorney General.

Incumbent Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, was first elected in 2018 and will be on the ballot again this fall. Two Republicans are running in the Republican primary for the right to face Kaul in the general election — former State Representative Adam Jarchow and Fond du Lac county District Attorney Eric Toney.

All three men weighed in on the news that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade in its entirety next month, which would immediately criminalize abortion care in Wisconsin even in cases of rape or incest. Here’s what you need to know:

Attorney General Josh Kaul (D):

According to the Associated Press, Kaul reiterated last week “that if Roe were overturned, he would not investigate alleged violations of the state ban or prosecute anyone.” 

While District Attorneys would have original jurisdiction in enforcing the criminalization of abortion care in a post Roe landscape, the State Department of Justice’s role in appeals cases and discretion in deploying investigative resources makes Kaul’s opposition notable, and crucial.

Former State Representative Adam Jarchow (R):

Jarchow heralded the news that five justices had voted to overturn nearly a half century of precedent regarding bodily autonomy by proclaiming it “one of the best” days of his life. He also lauded disgraced former President Donald Trump’s appointment of three of the justices reportedly voting to overturn Roe; Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.  

Fond du lac District Attorney Eric Toney (R):

Toney had two reactions to the coming assault on reproductive freedom by conservative judicial activists. First criticizing the reporting as undermining the rule of law before identifying himself as anti-choice and noting that he has been endorsed by one of Wisconsin’s leading anti-choice organizations. 

The Takeaway:

Despite the extraordinary influence of Wisconsin’s Department of Justice in a post-Roe world, candidates for Attorney General have a hard time getting the same level of attention that candidates for other offices command. 
On an issue sure to be front and center this election year, this much is clear: Kaul supports Roe v. Wade and reproductive freedom, his Republican opponents don’t.




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