“The state’s legislature is so aggressively gerrymandered that it is likely impossible for Republicans to lose control of it in an election. In 2018, for example, Democratic state assembly candidates received 54 percent of the popular vote in Wisconsin, but Republicans still won 63 of the assembly’s 99 seats.
There is, however, a light at the end of this tunnel both for small-d democrats and for large-D Democrats in the notoriously contentious swing state. Last April, Justice Janet Protasiewicz won a landslide election victory over a former, very conservative state justice. She took her seat at the beginning of August, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority on the state supreme court. (Technically, supreme court races in Wisconsin are nonpartisan, but every recent race has pitted a liberal supported by Democrats against a conservative supported by Republicans.)
Litigants challenging the gerrymandered state legislature filed a lawsuit, known as Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, the very next day.
A quirk in the state constitution, however, may allow Wisconsin’s gerrymandered legislature to strip Protasiewicz of her ability to decide cases, and to do so indefinitely. That would leave the state supreme court evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and thus unable (or, at least, unwilling) to strike down the state’s gerrymander.
According to the New York Times, “Republicans in Wisconsin are coalescing around the prospect of impeaching” Protasiewicz. If the state assembly moved forward with impeachment, and then the gerrymandered state Senate convicted her, that wouldn’t actually be that big of a deal. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers could immediately appoint a replacement justice, who would then provide the fourth vote to strike down the gerrymandered maps.
But the state constitution also provides that “no judicial officer shall exercise [her] office, after [s]he shall have been impeached, until [her] acquittal.” So the state assembly could conceivably impeach Protasiewicz, and then the state senate could delay her trial forever — effectively creating a vacancy on the court that could last for a very long time.
There’s a very strong argument that this impeachment plan violates the First Amendment. So, if Republicans actually move forward with this plan, Protasiewicz or some other interested party would likely file a federal lawsuit seeking to restore her to office. But, even if that lawsuit succeeds, that could take years.
And there’s no guarantee that the federal judiciary, and especially a US Supreme Court with six GOP-appointed justices, would honor past precedents indicating that Protasiewicz cannot be suspended from her office. Indeed, one member of the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito, has already signaled that he will intervene to ensure that Republicans keep their stranglehold on the state legislature.”
“if Protasiewicz’s court also is not allowed to strike down these gerrymanders, the people of Wisconsin will be left with no lawful recourse whatsoever against permanent Republican control of their state legislature.”
“Evers pulled these changes off by leveraging a tool known as the line-item veto, a power granted to governors in 44 states, which allows them to veto parts of a budget bill instead of the entire measure. Wisconsin, in particular, gives governors “uniquely powerful” line-item veto authorities for appropriations bills that allow them to target “sentences, words or in some cases even a single character or digit,” according to WisContext’s Will Cushman.”
“in the April election, liberal Milwaukee County judge Janet Protasiewicz beat conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly by a whopping 11 percentage points, flipping the ideological majority of the court.
In the aftermath, even Republicans here are acknowledging that the state has now shifted leftward, and abortion has a lot to do with that. The end of Roe v. Wade last year effectively reinstated Wisconsin’s 19th-century abortion ban, which is already being challenged — and those challenges will likely be decided by the state Supreme Court. That’s why Protasiewicz campaigned heavily on protecting abortion rights, and the election turned almost entirely on the issue.”
“Left-leaning Janet Protasiewicz won resoundingly in her bid for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, despite being labeled “No Jail Janet” by her opponents. Democrats noted that her opponent, Dan Kelly, was connected to a plan to reverse the 2020 election results.
Similarly, Brandon Johnson, a Chicago union organizer, was hammered by his rival for previously leaning into the “defund the police” movement. But he stressed that his opponent Paul Vallas was not actually a Democrat, forcing him to repeatedly defend his credentials.
“Control of the Wisconsin state Supreme Court is on the ballot this spring, and the contest could decide the fate of abortion rights, redistricting and more in the critical swing state.
Should a more liberal-leaning jurist win the job in the April election, it would flip the balance of the state’s highest court for at least two years.”
“the Wisconsin Supreme Court..rendered most ballot drop boxes illegal in the state. The Court found that state law, which requires that mail-in ballots be delivered to a “mailbox,” does not allow “delivery to an unattended ballot drop box.””
“Since the Dobbs decision, Wisconsin clinics have been proceeding as if abortion is now illegal in the state based on an 1849 law banning the procedure, except to save the life of the mother. However, state Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has said he won’t enforce the ban, and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promised to pardon any doctors convicted of performing an abortion. In fact, on Tuesday, Evers and Kaul announced a legal challenge to the 1849 ban. (Evers has also said he is considering executive action that would limit local prosecutors’ ability to enforce the law.)
But Kaul and Evers could both lose reelection in 2022. Evers’s loss would be especially consequential: Not only might doctors once again face jail time for performing abortions if the 1849 ban is determined to be operative, but also, if it is not, a Republican governor could join forces with the Republican-led legislature to pass a modern abortion ban. The opposite situation — Democrats winning the legislature and working with Evers to enact new abortion protections — is pretty much off the table, though. Wisconsin’s state-legislative maps are heavily biased toward the GOP, so Democrats do not have a realistic shot at winning either chamber.”
“When you subsidize something, the old adage goes, you’ll get more of it.
But some ideas make so little economic sense that even the largest corporate subsidy ever awarded by a state government isn’t enough.
It’s been obvious for quite some time that Wisconsin’s highly touted deal with Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn was going to fall well short of the lofty promises made by the project’s supporters. Then-President Donald Trump, for example, predicted in 2018 that the planned factory on the outskirts of Milwaukee would be nothing less than “the eighth wonder of the world.”
Exactly how short it will fall is now official. In filings with the state, Foxconn says it now plans to employ 1,454 people and invest about $672 million into its still-under-construction factory in Mount Pleasent, Wisconsin. That’s a long way from the $10 billion that the company initially promised to spend building a plant that would have employed 13,000 workers. In response to the amended contract, the state will recover $2.77 billion of the subsidies originally promised to Foxconn—though the company will still receive $80 million from Wisconsin taxpayers, according to a statement from Gov. Tony Evers.
But recovering those subsidies won’t bring back the residential neighborhood that was flattened to make space for the factory. Developers bulldozed 75 homes, some of which were seized through eminent domain, because why should mere houses full of people stand in the way of the eighth wonder of the world?
The town of Mount Pleasent invested more than $1 billion in the project—effectively mortgaging its entire future on the promise of thousands of new jobs and the tax-paying residents who would come to fill them. Those jobs won’t be coming, but the town did have its credit rating downgraded.”
“From the outset, the deal didn’t make sense. Foxconn promised to make Wisconsin a hub for the manufacturing of HD television screens and other high-tech products, but the company never explained how it planned to make the math work. Besides the relatively higher cost of American labor, there were serious supply chain and logistical issues to be overcome for a factory that was, as TechCrunch put it in 2019, “essentially [in] the middle of nowhere, without the sort of dense ecosystem of suppliers and sub-suppliers required for making a major factory hum.””
“The state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a number-crunching agency similar to the federal Congressional Budget Office, calculated that it would take the state until 2043 to recoup the $3 billion handout, which was the largest such subsidy in Wisconsin history. Even if all 13,000 promised jobs went to Wisconsinites, the tab would be more than $230,000 per job created, the bureau found.”
“The entire saga provides an obvious lesson about the wasteful mistakes that state governments make when they throw tax dollars at businesses that promise to create jobs. The best way to create jobs in any state, of course, is to provide a stable economy with comparatively low taxes and a light regulatory touch for all—not to provide special treatment for some and stick others with the bill.
But there’s also a lesson here for politicians who would pursue economic nationalism through greater industrial policy at the federal level. Trump saw the Foxconn deal not only as a way to create jobs, but as proof that reorienting supply chains was a matter of political will rather than economics. The factory, he said in 2018, was evidence that his policies were “reclaiming our country’s proud manufacturing legacy.”
If the largest subsidies ever offered to a foreign company were insufficient to make the Foxconn deal work, maybe that says something about the ability of our political leaders to steer the economy.”
“Two years after Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn broke ground in Wisconsin, the massive LCD factory and accompanying tech campus the company promised to build in exchange for $3 billion in state subsidies does not exist and “probably never will,” The Verge reported in October. The company’s Wisconsin outpost was supposed to create 13,000 jobs; as of this year it employed no more than 281 people.”
“Wisconsin is proof that politicos have short memories. In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry carried Wisconsin by just 0.4 percentage points — making it the closest state in the country. Four years earlier, it had been even closer — Democrat Al Gore won the Badger State by just 5,708 votes, or 0.2 points.
But Democrat Barack Obama really connected with Wisconsin voters, winning the state by 14 points in 2008 and 7 points in 2012. Going into 2016, that contributed to a sense that Wisconsin was a safe bet for Hillary Clinton — part of the mythical “blue wall.” It had, after all, voted Democratic in seven consecutive presidential elections by that point.”
“Conventional wisdom says that Clinton lost Wisconsin because she infamously did not visit the state at all during the final seven months of the 2016 campaign. But that’s probably not true; Clinton devoted a lot of effort to winning Pennsylvania and still lost there, for instance. Instead, Wisconsin probably got redder in 2016 for the same reason that Pennsylvania and other Midwestern states did: demographics. The one-time home of progressive stalwarts like Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette and Victor Berger could not escape the modern reality that white people without a bachelor’s degree — who make up 59 percent of Wisconsin’s population age 25 and older — have become more and more Republican, especially in the Trump era.”