Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Won’t Seek Reelection

The move will potentially puts the state Supreme Court’s liberal-leaning majority into question.
Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Won’t Seek Reelection
The Wisconsin Supreme Court listens to arguments during a redistricting hearing at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 21, 2023. (Ruthie Hauge/The Capital Times via AP, Pool, File)
Jack Phillips

A Wisconsin Supreme Court justice announced Thursday she won’t be seeking reelection, potentially throwing the state court’s liberal-leaning majority in jeopardy.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, 73, has been on the state’s highest court since 1995 and was reelected twice in that time period—having last been reelected in 2015. Her statement confirmed that her time on the bench will end in July 2025.

“I know I can win re-election, should I run,” the judge said in a statement. “But, it’s just time to pass the torch, bringing fresh perspectives to the court. Upon completion of my third term, I look forward to embarking upon a new chapter in my life, which will include public service that is guided by the same principles of justice, fairness and dedication that have defined my tenure on the court.”

Liberal justices took control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court after the election of Judge Janet Protasiewicz in 2023. When the shift occurred, Judge Bradley hailed her election and noted that she had been essentially writing dissents for years because the state Supreme Court had been dominated by conservative-leaning judges.

“I’ve been in the dissenting mode essentially all of my judicial career,” she told the Washington Post. “I’m delighted at where the court is right now, but it’s just time—time to pass the torch, bring in fresh perspective.”

After she announced that she won’t be seeking reelection, Democrat state officials praised her work and claimed a liberal-leaning justice would win the election for her vacant seat.

“Wisconsinites have sent a resounding message in the last two Supreme Court elections that they want justices shaped in the mold of Ann Walsh Bradley,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. “Even without her name on the ballot next April, we are confident that the vision and tradition embodied by Justice Bradley will continue on the Court and prevail at the ballot box, and we are committed to fighting off any extremist attempts to retake this seat. We are deeply grateful for Justice Bradley’s many years of dedicated service to our state, and wish her the best in her well-earned retirement.”

Former Republican Wisconsin Attorney General and Waukesha County Judge Brad Schimel has been campaigning for the seat since last November. Judge Schimel wished Judge Bradley well after she made her retirement announcement, saying that he isn’t running against “one person” but is “running against this Court’s leftist majority.”

When he launched his campaign last year, Judge Schimel accused liberals on the state’s high court of “[putting] their own opinions above the law” and disregarding court precedent.

Wisconsin Appeals Court Judge Chris Taylor also told reporters she is considering running for her seat. She was appointed in 2020 by Mr. Evers to the Dane County Circuit Court after she served four terms as a Democrat state representative.

Recent Rulings

The court has made several key rulings since liberals gained control last year, including a December decision overturning Republican-drawn maps of the state’s legislative districts.

Abortion was also a central topic during Judge Protasiewicz’s race and the court has since been asked to consider two challenges to a decades-old state law that conservatives have interpreted as banning abortion.

In March, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, however, rejected a Democrat lawsuit that also sought to throw out the battleground state’s congressional maps, handing a win to Republicans. Judge Protasiewicz did not participate, saying she didn’t participate because she wasn’t on the court when the case was originally brought.

At the time, two of the court’s conservative members, Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and Justice Rebecca Bradley, wrote that although the case was rightfully rejected, “it likely won’t be long until the new majority flexes its political power again to advance a partisan agenda despite the damage inflicted on the independence and integrity of the court.”

The court faced a tight deadline to act in time for the November election. Wisconsin’s elections commission has said district boundaries must be set by mid-March to meet deadlines for election officials and candidates. Candidates can start circulating nomination papers on April 15 for the Aug. 13 primary.

Six of the state’s eight congressional seats are held by Republicans. In 2010, the year before Republicans redrew the maps, Democrats held five seats compared with three for Republicans. Only two of the state’s current congressional districts are seen as competitive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: