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WUWM breaks down important Wisconsin issues to help you understand how they impact you and our state.

How will Protasiewicz's win, a Republican super majority and binding referendums impact Wisconsin?

Analyzing how Wisconsin will be impacted post-election
Postmodern Studio
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Analyzing how Wisconsin will be impacted post-election

The April election has come and gone, but the impact is yet to be seen in Wisconsin. Voters elected liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Republican Representative Dan Knodl to the Wisconsin Senate — giving Republicans a supermajority in the Senate. Wisconsinites also voted overwhelmingly in favor of two binding referenda that will affect criminal justice in the state.

Paul Nolette, an associate professor of political science and chair of the department at Marquette University, offers some insight on what the future of politics in the state may look like.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

The Wisconsin Supreme Court election has added a liberal-leaning justice, Judge Janet Protasiewicz. This will likely affect how the Wisconsin Court rules. Recent decisions, like those on election procedures and the use of ballot drop boxes, were narrowly decided along ideological lines. Nolette says, "I think those cases very well could have come out differently had the composition been what it will be after Aug. 1 when [Judge Janet] Protasiewicz is sworn in."

Judge Protasiewicz will begin her term when the Wisconsin Supreme Court's new session begins on August 1.


Wisconsin voted for binding referendums that will impact the state's Constitution. Specifically, these referendum widen a judge's ability to set bail amounts for people facing criminal charges. Under the new changes, judges can now consider new factors while setting bail and broadens the definition of "harms," beyond bodily harm.

"Now, judges can consider 'what's the chances that they're going to cause serious harm?' Now, that opens the door for a whole bunch of different harms [and] makes it easier for judges to step in and say, 'No, we shouldn't release the suspect," Nolette explains.


Despite Wisconsin Republicans now holding a supermajority in the Senate, Nolette says it may not be that impactful. He explains,"Yes, now Republicans have a supermajority in the Senate. However, that doesn't mean that they can just willy-nilly overturn Gov. Evers' vetoes because, after all, you need a 2/3 vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. But the Republicans are a couple of seats short in the Assembly of having that supermajority."

The Republicans have gained unilateral impeachment power over many of Wisconsin's elected officials including members of the Supreme Court, the Evers' administration and Gov. Evers himself. Nolette says, "I think for a number of reasons it's unlikely to happen, but that power is now in Republicans’ hands."


Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Robert is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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