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Liberal Justice to Retire From Wisconsin Supreme Court, Leaving Control Uncertain

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of the Wisconsin Supreme Court said Thursday she will not seek a fourth term next year, creating a new tug-of-war for majority control of a closely divided court.

Justice Walsh Bradley is one of four liberals serving on Wisconsin’s highest court; the three remaining justices are conservative. Judge Walsh Bradley, 73, has served on the court since 1995.

In a statement, she spoke of her long tenure on the court – 29 years – and her desire to continue her commitment to public service after her retirement.

“I know I can do the job and do it well,” Judge Walsh Bradley said. “I know I can get re-elected if I run. But it is just time to pass the torch, bringing new perspectives to the court.

She added that she plans to redouble her efforts to promote civic education in Wisconsin, particularly on the role of the courts in government.

His term ends in July 2025. At least one prominent Republican — Brad Schimel, former Wisconsin attorney general — has said he will run for his seat.

Elections for 10-year terms on the state’s highest court are officially nonpartisan and take place in April, not November; only one seat is to be elected at a time. Races can be fiercely contested.

The election to replace Justice Walsh Bradley could echo a recent contest for the court in 2023, when Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal Milwaukee County judge, defeated Daniel Kelly, a conservative former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice.

That campaign has become a battle over abortion rights and legislative maps that have been reshuffled to favor Republicans, who have dominated state politics for the past decade. Before the election, Justice Protasiewicz said she believed abortion should be “a woman’s right to choose” and said the state’s maps were “rigged.” This race was the costliest judicial election in American history.

This election had rapid and significant implications: with the Liberals now in the majority, the court ordered that the legislative map be redrawn.

Wisconsin’s electorate remains narrowly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and statewide elections are typically won by tight margins.

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