Though largely ignored by prominent conservatives on social media, there’s a critically important Supreme Court race happening in Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, Republican Daniel Kelly and Democrat Janet Protasiewicz will face off at the ballot box in an election that will determine the jurisprudence of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. While the body currently has a 4-3 conservative majority, a Protasiewicz win on Tuesday would allow Democrats to control the high court for the first time since 2008. With cases regarding abortion, election integrity, and governmental overreach having made their way to the high court in recent years, the outcome of Tuesday’s election remains significant.
Rather than using their influence to draw attention to this critically important race, however, many prominent conservative figures have spent the latter half of March discussing the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Take a trip to your favorite conservative influencer’s Twitter account and you’re bound to find numerous tweets pondering whether the nominee should be Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis — and none regarding the Wisconsin Supreme Court race.
The whole ordeal is a remarkable spectacle to witness, especially when considering that the 2024 primaries don’t start for several months. Moreover, the outcome of Tuesday’s Wisconsin election will have reverberating impacts on national and state politics that will be felt for years to come.
The Issues at Stake
Over the past several years, the court’s Republican majority has been crucial in upholding Wisconsin law.
In July, for example, the court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the Wisconsin Elections Commission had violated state law by authorizing the use of unmanned absentee ballot drop boxes during the 2020 election. Leading up to the 2020 contest, left-wing nonprofits funded by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg poured hundreds of millions of dollars into local election offices in battleground states like Wisconsin. These “Zuckbucks” were used to advance Democrat-backed voting policies such as mail-in voting and the widespread use of ballot drop boxes. To make matters worse, the grants were heavily skewed toward Democrat-majority counties, essentially making it a massive Democrat get-out-the-vote operation.
[READ: Dissent In WI Ballot Drop Box Victory Highlights Much Bigger Issue: Our Top Jurists Don’t Care About Election Integrity]
The high court — once again in a 4-3 decision — separately ruled in March 2021 that Democrat Gov. Tony Evers violated state law by imposing and extending multiple Covid-related emergency orders without authorization from the state legislature. The order came after the court “previously ruled that Evers’s administration ‘overstepped its authority’ with a statewide stay-at-home order and failed to consult state legislators about the decision to extend it.”
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, abortion has also become a highly contentious issue at stake in Tuesday’s election. As noted by the Catholic News Agency, Wisconsin has a pre-Roe statute dating back to 1849 that bans abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy. While the law was deemed unenforceable after the Roe decision, the high court’s 2022 Dobbs ruling permitted the statute to come into effect. Evers and Wisconsin Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul have since filed a lawsuit to try and overturn the law.
While Protasiewicz has not said how she would rule on the 1849 law if it was heard by Wisconsin’s highest court, she has voiced support for women being able to kill their unborn children and touted endorsements from pro-abortion groups. Meanwhile, Kelly has received the backing of notable pro-life groups such as Wisconsin Family Action, Pro-Life Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Right to Life.
Protasiewicz’s Soft-on-Crime Record
During her time as a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County, Protasiewicz has shown herself to be a radical, soft-on-crime leftist. Back in 2019, for instance, Robert Guzinski was arrested for raping a female military veteran in a bar alleyway. According to Fox News, the female victim told the court that “she suffered from physical injuries, nightmares and crippling anxiety from the attack, which resulted in months of therapy and a mental health-related hospitalization.”
Despite the horrific nature of the crime, Protasiewicz appeared to consider placing Guzinski on probation, saying, “Is probation appropriate for you, given the fact that you have so many pro-social characteristics? … I weigh that very, very carefully.”
“It’s not an easy call, Mr. Guzinski,” she said. “As much as part of me would like to place you on probation, I just can’t do that. … It’s not a probationary case.”
While Guzinski ultimately pled guilty to third-degree sexual assault — a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine — Protasiewicz gave him a light sentence of “2.5 years in prison, with credit for 52 days already served, followed by 2.5 years of probation.”
For other examples of Protasiewicz handing down light sentences to sex offenders, see here and here.
Conservatives Must Learn to Focus
The lack of awareness among prominent conservatives on what issues matter now is incredibly frustrating. Unlike Republicans, Democrats know exactly what time it is and are working overtime to wrest control of Wisconsin’s highest court.
In the lead-up to Tuesday’s election, Democrats have poured millions into the race to boost Protasiewicz. According to WisPolitics, Protasiewicz outraised Kelly “more than 5-to-1 in the latest reporting period, fueled by more than $8.8 million from the state Dem Party.” Outside leftist mega-donors have also injected millions into the state to help the Wisconsin Democrat, with billionaire George Soros donating $1 million to the Democrat Party of Wisconsin last month.
With so much at stake on Tuesday, prominent conservative figures should be using their platforms to shed a national spotlight on this critically important election. Instead, many are falling into the trap of prioritizing the next national election over state and local issues that can have lasting effects on the country. And whether they’d like to believe it or not, this kind of myopic worldview is why Republicans lose on major issues regularly.