How Wisconsin’s April 4 Election Will Impact Your Life for the Next 10+ Years

By Christina Lorey

January 26, 2023

The New York Times is calling it “an election that carries bigger policy stakes than any other contest in America.”

Politico says it’s “the most important election nobody’s ever heard of.” And they’re not wrong: Wisconsin’s April election will decide the future of reproductive rights, legislative maps, the governor’s powers, and maybe even the results of the 2024 presidential election.

You have the opportunity to change the direction of our state and our country. All you have to do is vote. April 4 is the date of Wisconsin’s crucial state Supreme Court election.

While many people excitedly cast their ballots for charismatic politicians during November elections, the main race on the ballot this spring is among people whose faces you may not see for another decade: the judge who will serve a 10-year term on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. The person who wins that seat will make decisions that impact all of our lives for the next decade. 

Here is where the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates stand on two of the most important issues.

How Wisconsin’s April 4 Election Will Impact Your Life for the Next 10+ Years

Reproductive Freedom

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to hear a case challenging the state’s 19th-century law banning almost all abortions. Currently, Wisconsin abortion providers have stopped performing the procedure because the 1849 ban is so unclear.

Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz is running on the pro-reproductive freedom side of this issue. She supports a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body– a right that was stripped from Wisconsin women after the US Supreme Court reversed 49 years of Roe v. Wade precedent and the state’s abortion ban went back into effect. Protasiewicz has argued abortion should be “a woman’s right to choose.”

Running against abortion rights is conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to a spot on the court by then-Gov. Scott Walker in 2016 before losing a 2020 election for a full term. He does not believe women can be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.

How Wisconsin’s April 4 Election Will Impact Your Life for the Next 10+ Years

Democracy

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is also expected to decide major cases about election laws, voting rights, and legislative maps. Before and after the 2020 presidential election, the current conservative-leaning court made it more difficult for people to vote by banning all absentee drop boxes during a pandemic; struck down Governor Evers’ pandemic mitigation efforts; stripped regulatory powers from the democratically-elected state school superintendent; allowed political appointees of Evers’ Republican predecessor to remain in office long after their terms expired; and forced some public schools to pay for busing for parochial schools. 

Simply put: the current court has made decision after decision that went against the will of you, Wisconsin voters.

Protasiewicz is on the pro-democracy side of these issues, calling the current GOP-drawn legislative district map lines “not fair.”

RELATED: The Worst-Drawn Districts in America: How Wisconsin Got Here, How It’s Hurting Us, & How We Can Fix It

Meanwhile, Kelly has ties to former President Donald Trump. In 2020, Trump endorsed Kelly and praised him at a Milwaukee rally.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Wisconsin’s upcoming Supreme Court race, check your registration status, and/or find out what else is on your ballot.

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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