EMILY's List, a national Democratic group that supports pro-abortion rights women running for office, has endorsed Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz in Wisconsin's Supreme Court race.
The state Supreme Court race has gained national attention this year for its new and critical role in deciding the state's abortion policies after Roe v. Wade was overturned at the federal level. The state's court is expected to be asked to rule on the issue in the next few years.
The endorsement is the group's first in a statewide judicial race and they aren't alone. Overall, $2.6 million has been spent on TV ads with 11 days left until the primary, according to AdImpact.
Wisconsin currently has a near-total abortion ban as a result of an 1849 law that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe last year.
Voting rights have become another major focal point in the election. The state Supreme Court upheld Republican-leaning congressional maps during the redistricting process after the 2020 census and also decided to ban ballot drop boxes during the 2022 election cycle.
EMILY's List pointed to both of these issues in their endorsement of Protasiewicz.
"The rights and freedoms of millions of Wisconsinites hinge on a Wisconsin Supreme Court committed to reproductive freedom, democracy, and voting rights for all," the group said in a statement.
Wisconsin Supreme Court elections are nonpartisan, so Protasiewicz isn't a Democrat. But she is one of two progressive candidates vying for the seat and competing against two conservatives.
On the right is Waukesha County Court Judge Jennifer Dorow. Dorow shot to popularity while presiding over the trial of Darrell Brooks, who was convicted of killing six when he drove into a Wisconsin Christmas parade in 2021.
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who served on the state’s high court for four years, is also running as a conservative. Kelly was defeated in 2020 by liberal Justice Jill Karofsky.
On the left is Judge Protasiewicz, who drew fire from Republicans when she called the state’s maps “rigged” and criticized the overturning of Roe v. Wade at a forum.
Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell, who oversees the county’s High Risk Drug Court Program and presides over juvenile cases, is also running as a liberal.
The four candidates are running for an open seat due to the retirement of conservative Justice Patience Roggensack, who is not seeking re-election. Currently, conservatives hold a 4-3 majority, making this year's election a critical one for both parties.