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Wisconsin Supreme Court docket candidates conflict over 1849 abortion ban in lone debate

CNN  — 

The 2 candidates battling for a seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court docket clashed Tuesday over the state’s 1849 abortion ban of their lone debate, underscoring the excessive stakes of an election that would determine the difficulty in one of many nation’s most vital swing states.

Former Justice Daniel Kelly, a conservative, and liberal opponent Milwaukee County Choose Janet Protasiewicz will sq. off April four in an election that may determine the steadiness of the Wisconsin Supreme Court docket. In a state the place management is break up between a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, the excessive court docket might determine the end result of authorized battles over the state’s abortion legal guidelines, its legislative maps and extra.

The talk – the one one scheduled between Protasiewicz and Kelly – befell on the identical day Wisconsin voters started casting early ballots in particular person.

It’s the nation’s most costly judicial contest on file, with about $30 million already spent on promoting and counting, as there are two weeks remaining within the marketing campaign. Wisconsin is one in every of 14 states within the nation that straight elects Supreme Court docket justice on this method.

Protasiewicz targeted her assaults on Kelly on abortion, with the state’s 1849 ban on almost all abortions at the moment being challenged in court docket and prone to land earlier than the state Supreme Court docket.

“If my opponent is elected, I can let you know with 100% certainty, that 1849 abortion ban will keep on the books. I can let you know that,” Protasiewicz stated in Tuesday’s debate.

She stated she is “making no guarantees” on how she would rule on the 1849 abortion legislation. However she additionally famous her private assist for abortion rights, in addition to endorsements from pro-abortion rights teams. And she or he pointed to Kelly’s endorsement by Wisconsin Proper to Life, which opposes abortion rights.

Kelly shot again that Protasiewicz’s feedback are “completely not true.”

“You don’t know what I’m eager about that abortion ban,” he stated. “You haven’t any concept. These stuff you have no idea.”

The talk befell earlier than a crowd of about 100 individuals who have been seated in an auditorium on the places of work of the State Bar of Wisconsin in Madison. The candidates answered questions from a panel of three Wisconsin reporters because the viewers watched in silence.

The rhetoric grew more and more bitter and testy, significantly on the subjects of abortion, redistricting and felony sentencing, with the 2 rivals standing a number of toes aside on a small stage. The variations which have been aired in a multi-million tv advert marketing campaign got here alive.

Kelly regarded straight at his opponent and repeatedly raised pointed questions on her integrity, saying at one level: “This appears to be a sample for you, Janet, telling lies about me.” He referred to as her by her first title, Janet, relatively than decide.

Protasiewic solely often regarded towards her challenger, however pushed again in opposition to an allegation that she is gentle on crime: “I’ve labored very laborious to maintain our group protected, every day I’m on the bench.”

Kelly accused Protasiewicz of handing down gentle sentences to violent offenders.

He cited the case of Anton Veasley, who in 2021 was convicted of kid enticement and third diploma sexual assault and was launched after Protasiewicz stayed his five-year jail sentence with 4 years of probation, giving him credit score for 417 days he’d already spent in jail.

“We have a look at the sentencing she has composed and the reasoning she used to achieve these conclusions, and that’s simply irresponsible to permit harmful convicted criminals again out so simply with no repercussions into the communities they simply acquired performed victimizing,” Kelly stated.

Protasiewicz acknowledged that “hindsight is 20/20.” However she stated Kelly was mischaracterizing her file.

“I’ve sentenced 1000’s of individuals. And it’s fascinating {that a} handful of instances have been cherry-picked and chosen and twisted, and inadequate details have been supplied to the citizens,” she stated.

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