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Voters in the April 4, 2023 Wisconsin election will fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.

If the winner is former Justice Daniel Kelly, who is endorsed by anti-abortion groups, the court would retain a 4-3 conservative majority.

If the winner is Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz, who has campaigned as an abortion rights supporter, the court will be a 4-3 liberal majority.

The Supreme Court is expected in 2023 or 2024 to hear a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the state’s abortion law, which is from 1849. The law bans abortion except to save the mother’s life.

A conservative majority could uphold Wisconsin’s law, while a liberal majority could overturn the law.

Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a national right to an abortion, made Wisconsin’s prohibition unenforceable. But on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturned Roe.

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This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


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Cornell Roe v. Wade

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Tom Kertscher / Wisconsin WatchFact Checker

Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.