Wisconsin Republicans have shredded democracy. We can restore it by winning back the Supreme Court

Wisconsin Republicans have shredded democracy. We can restore it by winning back the Supreme Court

When I tell you that the upcoming election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is, without any doubt, the most massively important single race of the year, it’s impossible to overstate the case. The stakes are simply gargantuan: If progressives can retake the majority, the court could roll back the GOP’s extreme gerrymanders, restore the right to an abortion, block any attempts by Republican lawmakers to steal the 2024 election for Donald Trump, and even revive the state’s moribund democracy from the pitiable sham Republicans have reduced it to.

That’s why Daily Kos is enthusiastically endorsing Judge Janet Protasiewicz in next year’s race for Wisconsin’s highest court—which is coming up very soon, on April 4.

Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority on the court, but one of their number, Pat Roggensack, is retiring. That means progressives have the chance to flip her seat and take their own 4-3 majority. And with that, everything would change.

Can you donate $10—or maybe $20, even—to Judge Protaseiwicz’s campaign to win back the Wisconsin Supreme Court?

The current conservative quartet has gladly greenlighted every last aspect of the GOP’s anti-democracy agenda. Most shamefully, after Republican legislators refused to compromise on new redistricting plans with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers last year, these right-wing judges made up a rule out of thin air requiring that any new maps be as close as possible to the previous maps—which had been drawn by the GOP a decade ago to be as tilted as possible in their favor. That decision, of course, wound up locking in Republican gerrymanders that have given the party two-thirds of all seats in the legislature despite the fact that Joe Biden won Wisconsin.

That’s by no means the only time the court has stepped in to suppress the vote. Earlier this year, for instance, the conservative majority banned ballot drop boxes throughout the state. And in April 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the court overturned an executive order by Evers in which he sought to temporarily postpone elections that month until they could be held more safely at a later date.

But it’s not just what the right has done in Wisconsin—it’s what it might do, too. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s demolition of Roe v. Wade, a near-total abortion ban dating back to 1849 came into force in Wisconsin, prompting clinics to stop offering the procedure altogether. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has filed a suit challenging the law in a case that will likely wind up before the state Supreme Court. It’s not hard to imagine what the conservatives would have to say about it.

And next time Trump comes calling, asking GOP lawmakers to overturn election results that he doesn’t like—as he did after 2020—what happens if Republicans decide to indulge him? Only Wisconsin’s top court would be able to stop them.

That’s why we need to elect Protasiewicz, a fair-minded and independent judge who has served on the bench in Milwaukee for a decade with distinction. Prior to that, she fought to protect children during her many years as a local prosecutor and has been recognized as a civic leader in her community. We can be certain she will stand up for fair elections, women’s rights, and the rule of law if she’s elected to the Supreme Court.

Her two conservative opponents, however, would do precisely the opposite. Judge Jennifer Dorow was appointed to the bench by notorious ex-Gov. Scott Walker and is active in the Wisconsin Republican Party, which supports banning abortion. She even called Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down sodomy laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy, “a prime example of judicial activism at its worst.”

Former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, who is making a comeback bid, is just as bad. He was also named to the court by Walker and was even endorsed by Trump during his failed 2020 election campaign. Since his loss, he’s toured the state keynoting a series of “election integrity” events promoting wild GOP conspiracy theories about non-existent election fraud, and he’s been supported by Wisconsin Right to Life, so you know exactly where he stands on abortion.

Make no mistake: Republicans understand the stakes of this election just as well as we do. The dark money they pour into this race will be a flood of biblical proportions. That’s why Protaseiwicz needs our help, and needs it now. Our people-powered grassroots donations will go a long way toward countering the GOP’s relentless lies, which they’re eager to start spewing.

There’s another factor as well. Wisconsin will hold an officially nonpartisan primary on Feb. 21, and the top two vote-getters will advance to the April 4 general election. Because multiple candidates are running, there’s a possibility that both Dorow and Kelly will earn the top two slots, thereby locking progressives out of the second round altogether. That’s a nightmare scenario we just can’t risk, which is why Daily Kos is making this early endorsement: After extensive due diligence and careful consideration, we’re certain she’s our best bet to win both the primary and the general election.

This added obstacle, however, makes it even more imperative that we all act now.

Please donate $10 or even $25 to Judge Janet Protaseiwicz so that she can flip the Wisconsin Supreme Court!

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