Abortion Interests Clamor for Protasiewicz for Wisconsin Court Seat

Wisconsin abortion advocates are following up Tuesday’s nomination of liberal Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice with strident calls for her election over conservative former Justice Daniel Kelly. 

Protasiewicz and Kelly beat right-leaning Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow and progressive Judge Everett Mitchell of Dane County in Tuesday’s four-way nonpartisan primary. The following day, Dorow endorsed Kelly, and Mitchell stated his support for Protasiewicz going forward. 

The general election to determine who will take the open state Supreme Court seat and serve a 10-year term will take place on April 4. Conservative-leaning justices hold four of the high court’s seven seats, while solid leftists hold the other three. Abortion backers are insisting that reproductive rights are on the ballot this spring. 

“This election is significant for the future of reproductive health and the health of our families and community,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin Executive Director Steven Webb said in a statement. “We strongly believe we need someone on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who prioritizes reproductive health for the people of Wisconsin, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin trust Judge Protasiewicz to uphold our values on the Supreme Court.” 

The leftist group A Better Wisconsin Together issued its pronouncement regarding the race, rebuking Kelly for his textualist views which observers expect will disallow him to strike down valid legislation that restricts abortion.

“Dan Kelly has a long documented history of extremism on abortion and other policy issues that matter to Wisconsinites,” Chris Walloch, the organization’s executive director, declared. 

Protasiewicz’s campaign has been disseminating a video advertisement underscoring her differences from Kelly on the issue. 

“On the court, Kelly will uphold Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban that strips women of their freedom to make personal decisions on abortion,” the ad stated. 

Protasiewicz has also racked up endorsements from left-wing environmentalists and labor associations. Pro-life and pro-family groups have meanwhile rallied to Kelly’s side. 

“It is imperative that Wisconsinites elect a justice who will serve fairly and impartially, respecting and upholding the rule of law,” Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund PAC Director Matt Sande said. “That justice is Daniel Kelly. The same cannot be said for Janet Protasiewicz who has consistently and brazenly pronounced her policy preferences on matters likely to come before the high court, including abortion and redistricting.”

Wisconsin Family Action PAC Director Julaine Appling likewise spoke highly of Kelly. 

“Justice Kelly has everything we look for in a judge, especially for our state’s highest court,” she said. “He has made it very clear and very public that his judicial philosophy is that the courts are not lawmakers; that’s the job of the legislature. The role of the judiciary, as Justice Kelly puts it, is to interpret the laws according to the clear language of state statutes, the Wisconsin Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.”

Democratic state Attorney General Josh Kaul is currently litigating to invalidate an 1849 law prohibiting abortion. The law was not enforced for roughly a half-century because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 pro-abortion Roe v. Wade ruling. 

That decision was overturned last year, making enforcement of the 1849 statute possible again. Abortion remains effectively legal in the Badger State for now, as the pro-abortion Kaul and Governor Tony Evers (D) are not going after those who perform the procedure. However, a ruling by the state Supreme Court could settle whether the state law must go back into effect.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Wisconsin Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Janet Protasiewicz” by Janet Protasiewicz.



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