Smart Politics

Dallet Would Make History If Elected

6 of 7 state Supreme Court members would be women, highest percentage in American history.

By , Smart Politics - Mar 30th, 2018 12:43 pm
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Rebecca Dallet. Photo courtesy of Dallet for Justice.

Rebecca Dallet. Photo courtesy of Dallet for Justice.

Wisconsinites will vote in a state Supreme Court election for the fourth year in a row next Tuesday, with circuit judges Michael Screnock of Sauk County and Rebecca Dallet of Milwaukee County squaring off on the April 3rd ballot.

It is the state’s first open seat race for the court in 11 years, with Justice Mike Gableman opting not to seek a second 10-year term.

The nonpartisan race generally finds conservatives backing Screnock and liberals supporting Dallet.

If Judge Dallet is victorious and seated this summer, the Badger State would have six women on the Supreme Court – tying Washington for the largest number in the nation and breaking a tie with Oregon for the largest percentage of female justices.

Wisconsin has had at least one woman on its Supreme Court since Shirley Abrahamson was appointed to the bench in 1976 by Democratic Governor Patrick Lucey.

Abrahamson later became chief justice and served in that capacity for nearly 19 years and continues to serve as an associate justice.

Joining Abrahamson on the court are four other women: Ann Walsh Bradley (since 1995), current Chief Justice Pat Roggensack (2003), Annette Ziegler (2007), and Rebecca Bradley (2015).

Two other women have served on the court in Wisconsin over the last few decades: Janine Geske (1993-1998) and Diane Sykes (1999-2004).

Over the last half-century, three other women have lost a collective four times in the general election for the office:

  • 1999: Green Bay attorney Sharren Rose (lost to Abrahamson by 27.0 points)
  • 2007: Madison attorney Linda Clifford (lost to Ziegler by 17.4 points)
  • 2011: Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg (lost to Justice David Prosser by 0.5 points)
  • 2016: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg (lost to Justice Rebecca Bradley by 4.7 points)

A Dallet win on Tuesday will bring Wisconsin into a tie with the State of Washington for the most women serving on their respective highest courts with six.

The five women on Wisconsin’s bench have served more than 103 years in their posts collectively while the six women on Washington’s court (Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, Barbara Madsen, Susan Owens, Debra Stephens, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary Yu) have served just 76.5 years.

It should be noted that Washington seats nine justices on their bench, so Wisconsin already has a higher percentage of women on its supreme court than the Evergreen State (71.4 percent to 66.7 percent).

Oregon is the only other state to equal Wisconsin in that department, with five women on its seven-member court: Martha Lee Walters, Lynn Nakamoto, Meagan Flynn, Rebecca Duncan, and Adrienne Nelson.

Eleven states currently have a majority of women judges or justices on its highest court: Oregon and Wisconsin (five of seven, 71.4 percent), Washington (six of nine, 66.7 percent), New Mexico, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia (three of five, 60.0 percent), and Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio (four of seven, 57.1 percent).

Iowa is the only state in the nation currently without a woman on its supreme court and 12 states have just one – almost all deep red states: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.

Percentage of Women Justices Serving on Each State's Highest Court

Percentage of Women Justices Serving on Each State’s Highest Court

Overall, 119 of the 332 seats on the high courts across the country are held by women, or 35.8 percent – much higher than the percentage of women elected to prominent legislative or executive offices.

Sixteen states currently have a woman serving as chief justice.

Smart Politics is the non-partisan political news site founded and authored by Dr. Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

5 thoughts on “Smart Politics: Dallet Would Make History If Elected”

  1. Terry says:

    Dallet is far more qualified, experienced and ethical than the fat republican activist guy who is bought and paid for by corporate special interest groups and lobbyists.Plus he’s been arrested twice for his far right wing activism.

    Vote Dallet April 3!

  2. Tom says:

    Dallet has got my vote. No more republican nut jobs please Wisconsin!

  3. WashCoRepub says:

    Really sad to have to rely on race or gender as a reason to vote or not vote for someone. ‘Identity Politics’ at its most sickening.

  4. PMD says:

    Yeah your party and its infestation of nationalism is all about identity politics right now WashCoRepub. Have you been sleeping the last two years?

  5. Terry says:

    SHE did it!! DALLET WINS AND MAKES HISTORY!! First republicans got Schachtnered, then Career Politician and professional moocher Scott Walker got his little bad boy butt spanked by Eric Holder and three Wisconsin judges for trying to not let Wisconsinites vote, now we just whooped the Big Corporate republican special interest groups who spent more money to try and get their hand picked republican puppet on the Supreme Court than has been spent on any other Supreme Court campaign in Wisconsin history and yet, Dallet still won! Great job everybody! Now let’s enjoy our victory today but remember we have much more work to do. Come November we must take our state back and tjat starts with…

    DUMPING WALKER AND ALL REPUBLICANS!
    All aboard the Freedom Train!

    The BIG BLUE WAVE is building!

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