Judge Chris Taylor, a former legislator who’s running for the Court of Appeals, is reminding voters of the many issues that come before state Supreme Court justices and the impact they have on protecting, expanding, or removing your rights.
Big, marquee races—like the 2022 campaigns for governor and US Senate—get the lion’s share of media attention, but it can be fairly argued that this spring’s race for a seat on the state Supreme Court could have a much larger impact on Wisconsinites. Chris Taylor would know. The Dane County circuit judge previously served as a legislator and is likely about to get bumped up to the state Court of Appeals, so she’s had a front row seat to the issues that are at stake.
“Think about the issues that could come before that court,” Taylor said. “Issues of democracy, issues of voting, issues of whether women actually have the right to make their personal private health care decisions. If people care about those issues, which I hope they do and I think we’ve seen they do, they need to turn out for these races and decide what kind of justice are we going to elect?”
Taylor told UpNorthNews Radio she is traveling around a portion of the state not only to introduce herself as an Appeals Court judge candidate, but to help voters understand the importance of races like the one for the state Supreme Court. Taylor is running unopposed to serve as one of four Appeals Court judges for a district made up of 24 counties in central, southern, and southwestern Wisconsin.
Conservatives currently have a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court, but the retirement of a conservative justice means the April election could swing control of the court to progressives—something that could lead to less gerrymandered political maps, more voting rights, and the elimination of an abortion ban written by legislators in 1849. There are four candidates running for the seat, two conservatives and two progressives. All four will compete in the Feb. 21 primary, with the top two advancing to face off in the Apr. 4 general election. The finalists could be both of the conservatives, both of the progressives, or one of each—and it all depends on voter turnout in the primary.
Taylor has seen how the state Supreme Court has become increasingly expensive, bitter, and almost overtly partisan. She hopes voters place a higher value on candidates who believe the judicial branch should have independence from party politics and be impartial—deciding matters based on the law and,not what a political faction wants the law to be.
“Are we going to elect justices to the Supreme Court and to the Court of Appeals that are just an extension of another branch of government that are infected by partisanship and don’t really care about people?” Taylor said. “Courts are about people. Let’s not forget that.”
Taylor was joined on the radio program by former state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski in a discussion about women who are considering a run for public office. Taylor said that while electing judges and justices can be messy and personally difficult, it is also the most direct way for people to decide the kinds of qualities and values they want to see in these important roles.