The newly formed FFRF Action Fund (FFRF AF) has made its first endorsement of a candidate for elected office: Janet Protasiewicz for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice. The nationally watched election takes place on Tuesday, April 4, and early voting has started.
FFRF AF cites Protasiewicz’s commitment to upholding the Constitution and protecting individual rights as primary reasons for the endorsement. Given Wisconsin’s role as a battleground state, the Wisconsin Supreme Court race could be seen as a bellwether for the political mood of the state and the country as a whole. The court’s decisions have national implications on voting rights, labor rights such as Act 10, gerrymandering, and abortion.
According to the New York Times, if “Judge Protasiewicz wins, the court will be likely to overturn Wisconsin’s total ban on abortion, which was enacted in 1849,” and would have a say over the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps.
“Judge Protasiewicz will help safeguard our secular values and protect individual rights, including the right to access abortion and reproductive health care,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF AF Board president.
Protasiewicz (pronounced “Pro-Tuh-Say-Witz”) has served as a Wisconsin circuit court judge in Milwaukee for nearly 10 years.
The seat Protasiewicz is vying for is a potential game-changer. The balance on the court is 4-3 in favor of the conservative-leaning justices. For decades, archconservatives have ruled the court, voting in favor of “the rights of the majority” in FFRF’s nativity scene case, becoming the first state Supreme Court to approve vouchers and making Wisconsin the worst state in the union in which to be a victim of clergy abuse. The outcome of the election could shift the balance of power on the court in favor of separation between religion and government.
Protasiewicz’s opponent Daniel Kelly, a former Wisconsin state justice appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker in 2016, is backed by three anti-abortion groups, and has done work for Wisconsin Right to Life. Kelly has previously been critical of efforts to restrict religious expression in the government and public spaces. The Wisconsin Examiner reports that in the inaugural issue of the Regent University Law Review, Kelly, as a law student, wrote: “Law originates with God and is impressed on His creation, including mankind. We are, and must be, subject to the principles contained in Scripture.”
FFRF AF is of the strong opinion that theocratic views such as this disqualify Kelly from sitting on the Wisconsin Supreme Court again.
“We believe that Janet Protasiewicz will be a fair and impartial justice who will work to protect the rights of all Wisconsinites,” says FFRF AF Board Member Lisa Strand. “We are proud to endorse her campaign and urge all voters who care about individual rights and the separation of church and state to support her.”
Information on voting
Check whether you are registered to vote in Wisconsin at: myvote.wi.gov/RegisterToVote
All other information, such as where to vote and what’s on your local ballot, can be found here.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.