Conservatives pick up landslide policy victories in Wisconsin election despite Supreme Court loss to liberals

While control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was handed to liberals in Tuesday's election, voters gave conservatives three wins related to cash bail and welfare benefits.

Democrats received a major victory in the Wisconsin statewide election on Tuesday, but conservatives wrangled overwhelming support from voters for three ballot propositions that strongly correlate with the GOP’s agenda on crime and welfare.

While control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was handed to liberals in the Badger State election, voters provided conservatives with wins related to cash bail and welfare benefits.

Judges in Wisconsin will now be able to consider past convictions for violent crimes when setting bail for someone accused of a violent crime following a decision from voters in the state. They also will be allowed to set conditions meant to protect public safety when releasing someone before trial.

The bail measures, which appeared as two separate ballot questions that each received nods from nearly 1.2 million voters, is the latest victory in a Republican-backed push to enact stricter bail laws across the country.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin urged voters in the state to reject both bail system changes, claiming in an article shared to its website that the amendments would “make our already extremely predatory cash bail system even more punitive and harmful.”

“Wisconsin’s reliance on cash bail has perpetuated a two-tiered system of justice: one for the wealthy and one for the rest of us,” the ACLU of Wisconsin wrote. “These referendum questions propose amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution that would exacerbate inequities in the state’s cash bail system and raise significant concerns under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and the excessive bail prohibition under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

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Bail is meant to ensure people return to court and isn’t intended to be a punishment, since defendants are presumed innocent until convicted. Wisconsin law sets such a high bar for holding someone without bail that the option is almost never used.

Additionally, an advisory question featured on the ballot asked voters, “Shall able-bodied childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?”

More than 1.4 million voters, or 80%, said they believe welfare benefits should be more difficult to obtain for those who may attempt to game the system.

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said the welfare referendum was “frankly ridiculous” and questioned why the ballot would feature “an advisory referendum on something that already exists,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, also a Democrat, blasted the referendum earlier this year, saying it “simply attacks low-income Wisconsinites and is borne out of turnout considerations for their base in the upcoming spring election.”

On the other hand, conservatives were doing some soul searching after Democratic-backed Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz was elected to serve as a justice on the court. Protasiewicz’s victory over Republican-backed former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly means the court will now be controlled 4-3 by left-leaning justices for at least the next two years.


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Protasiewicz, 60, described herself as feeling “delighted and thrilled” after voters elected her in the consequential contest that gave the court’s liberal members a majority for the first time in 15 years.

The election is expected to have implications for issues including election rules and the drawing of districts for elected office in the state ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Reacting to Protasiewicz’s victory, Greg Price, who serves as communications director for the State Freedom Caucus Network, wrote in a tweet: “Wisconsin now has a Supreme Court that is going to strike down voter ID and bring back ballot harvesting before 2024.”

“It was the most important election of the year and conservatives allowed themselves to get heavily outspent and didn’t even notice until it was too late,” he added.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race was also the most expensive in U.S. history, topping $42 million and nearly tripling the previous national record for a court race.

The previous 4-3 conservative-controlled court came within one vote of overturning President Joe Biden’s win in the state in 2020.

Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing California’s 36th Congressional District, took to social media to proclaim that the Wisconsin election showed that Democrats “are continuing to win the culture war.”

“In 2020, Democrats won the culture war with the election of @JoeBiden. In Wisconsin, Dems showed we are continuing to win the culture war,” Lieu wrote in a Wednesday morning tweet. “The overwhelming majority of Americans reject the GOP’s extremism and recoil against government-mandated pregnancies and book bans.”

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Over 1.7 million Wisconsin voters participated in the Tuesday election — surpassing the approximately 1.6 million voters who took part in the 2011 election, which elected Justice David Prosser.

Fox News’ Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and Lawrence Richard, as well as The Associated Press, contributed to this article.

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