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HomeBreaking NewsProtasiewicz to be Sworn in Tuesday, Changing Makeup of Wisconsin Supreme Court

Protasiewicz to be Sworn in Tuesday, Changing Makeup of Wisconsin Supreme Court

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There are a lot of expectations about what a new liberal-majority Supreme Court will mean for Wisconsin. But not everyone is expecting change right away.

Judge Janet Protasiewicz will take her oath of office Tuesday, and with that Wisconsin’s Supreme Court flips from a 4-3 conservative court to a 4-3 liberal court.

Fellow Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn, who is often the conservative-leaning swing vote, said on UPFRONT on Milwaukee TV over the weekend that Protasiewicz’s arrival will not radically change the court in the short term.

“There certainly is going to be some shift in judicial philosophy, right? I mean, I’ve advocated for textualism and originalism, this idea that we’re supposed to take the law as it is and as written and try to give effect to whatever the reasonable reading of those words are. And some of my colleagues, particularly when it comes to the constitution, you have a little bit different approach that they’ve expressed and we’ve debated that. I think those debates will continue and they might turn out a little bit differently on at least some cases,” Hagedorn said. “But that’s not necessarily what governs every single case.”

Mark Lischeron, managing editor with the Badger Institute, agreed.

“Despite the protracted victory lap by progressives and the accompanying media cheerleading, a left-leaning majority on the state Supreme Court probably won’t mean much in the short term,” Lischeron told The Center Square. “Much like the recent consequential U.S. Supreme Court decisions, cases are brought from the lower courts and make their way to the top. As polarized as our politics is, cases that have the potential for big legal and policy change will be battled over all the way up the line. Even progressive sympathizers have said any changes to abortion law or voting district maps or Act 10 could take years.”

That doesn’t mean there aren’t expectations that the new Protasiewicz court will bring changes to Wisconsin’s abortion law, and more.

“We’re here to treat political cases like other cases. we shouldn’t be handling them differently,” Hagedorn said. “I get there’s a lot of political noise and a lot of people want what they want out of the court. But I think it’s incumbent upon us to show that we are going to act like a court and not just do whatever the political-chatters want on either side.”

Lischeron said the case against Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law is headed for the Supreme Court, but will take some time to get there.

“There is going to be a lot more sorting and interpreting and isn’t going to be the slam dunk progressives think,” Lischeron said. “But don’t think for a moment cases like the one filed by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, looking to make abortion universally legal in the state, won’t keep coming.”

Lischeron said other cases, like school choice, Act 10, and the state’s electoral maps will also take some time to end up in front of the new majority court.

Ben Yount - The Center Square
The Center Square contributor
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