Spending on Wisconsin Supreme Court race sets nationwide record

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AP Janet Protasiewicz March 2023_800px

Then-candidate Judge Janet Protasiewicz participates in a debate March 21 in Madison, Wisconsin, for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Morry Gash/The Associated Press.

Wisconsin voters elected a liberal Milwaukee judge to the state supreme court Tuesday in the most expensive judicial election in U.S. history.

The newly elected justice, Judge Janet Protasiewicz, will be seated before a challenge to an 1849 law banning abortion makes its way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports. Her term will last 10 years.

Other publications covering the election and the record spending that it engendered include the Washington Post, the New York Times and Reuters.

More than $42 million has been spent on the state supreme court race, the Associated Press reports in a separate story that cited a report released Monday. The amount is nearly triple the nation’s previous record for a judicial race. The figures include spending by the candidates, political parties and independent groups, the Washington Post reports.

Protasiewicz had said she supported abortion rights in the campaign but did not say how she would rule in particular cases.

Her win was applauded by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s majority has changed from one that has shown deference to one of the most gerrymandered Republican legislatures in the country to one that will demonstrate independence and protect the rights of all the people,” Holder said.

Protasiewicz had called electoral maps benefiting Republicans “rigged” and “unfair,” according to the New York Times.

She told the New York Times in an interview before the election results were in that it was important to inform voters about her values, something that her opponent didn’t do.

But Protasiewicz’s statements could lead to ethical questions in politically charged cases, according to the Washington Post.

Protasiewicz defeated former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, whom Holder called “an unqualified MAGA extremist” without referring to him by name.

“I wish that I’d be able to concede to a worthy opponent,” Kelly told supporters on election night, “but I do not have a worthy opponent.”

“I wish Wisconsin the best of luck because I think it’s going to need it,” Kelly said.

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