New Era in State Supreme Court Elections
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has sparked a new era in state supreme court elections. With the constitutional right to an abortion eliminated, the abortion debate has shifted to the states. This shift has brought unprecedented attention and money to state supreme court races, according to Douglas Keith, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. The races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2023, which saw victories for Democrats and record-breaking spending, have set the stage for the upcoming 2024 elections.
Abortion and Gerrymandering Take Center Stage
At least 38 lawsuits challenging abortion bans in 23 states have been filed and many are expected to reach state supreme courts. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is closely watching cases in several states including Wyoming, Kentucky, Ohio, Utah, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Nebraska, Georgia, and Montana. Brigitte Amiri, deputy director at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, emphasizes the high stakes of these cases and the critical role state courts play in protecting access to abortion.
Major Players and Key Battlegrounds
Major spenders in recent state supreme court races include the ACLU and the Republican State Leadership Committee. The upcoming elections in Ohio will be closely watched, as Democrats seek to flip the current Republican majority. These elections will also determine the interpretation of a recently passed constitutional amendment enshrining the right to abortion in the state. Redistricting is another important issue in Ohio, with the court having previously ruled against gerrymandered maps. North Carolina and Michigan are also expected to be key battlegrounds, with Republicans aiming to expand their majority in North Carolina and Democrats defending their majority in Michigan.
Importance of State Supreme Court Races
State supreme court races often fly under the radar but have far-reaching consequences for voters’ everyday lives. These races have become increasingly partisan and contentious, with abortion becoming a dominant issue. The high stakes of these races are reflected in the significant investment of money and attention. Even deep red states like Arkansas and Texas could see contested seats and abortion-related cases before their state supreme courts.
The upcoming state supreme court races in 2024 are expected to be highly consequential. With abortion rights and redistricting at the forefront, these races will shape the future of state supreme courts. Voters can anticipate a barrage of negative advertising and increased engagement from political parties in nonpartisan races.