Why Republicans are worried about Wisconsin's Supreme Court

What the loss means for the GOP going forward

An abortion protester outside the Supreme Court
(Image credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz last week defeated former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly to win a spot on Wisconsin's Supreme Court, giving the state's highest court its first liberal majority in 15 years. Seats on the court are officially nonpartisan, but Protasiewicz touted her support for abortion rights during the campaign, and received the endorsement of Democrats. Kelly, a conservative, was backed by Republicans and anti-abortion groups.

The race broke spending records and became a referendum on last year's Dobbs decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, the ruling that established and protected a constitutional right to abortion for half a century. Wisconsin's new liberal majority could overturn laws championed by the right, including the state's 19th-century-era abortion ban. "Today I'm proud to stand by the promise I've made to every Wisconsinite that I will always deliver justice and bring common sense to our Supreme Court," Protasiewicz told supporters. "Our state is taking a step forward to a better and brighter future where our rights will be protected."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.