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Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Daniel KellyYouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — One liberal and one conservative will advance to the April general election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, following the results of Tuesday’s primary election in the Dairy State.

Incumbent conservative Justice Patience Roggensack is retiring when her term expires on July 31, and four judges ran to succeed her: conservatives Jennifer Dorow and Daniel Kelly, and liberals Everett Mitchell and Janet Protasiewicz.

With 88 percent of the vote counted at 9:57 p.m. CST, Protasiewicz and Kelly were declared the winners. Protasiewicz, who won 46.2 percent of the vote, has been branded as a firmly pro-abortion candidate, with many of the ads supporting her focused on the issue.

Pro-Life Wisconsin and Wisconsin Family Action both endorsed Kelly, arguing that his previous tenure on the state’s highest court made him more of a certainty to rule from a textualist perspective. 

Kelly received 24.3 percent of the vote, which when combined with Dorow’s 21.9 percent makes for a combined conservative/Republican vote of 46.2 percent. The other liberal candidate, Mitchell, received 7.5 percent, meaning conservative activists will have to work to improve messaging and turnout if they want to prevail in the April 4 general election.

The final outcome of the race will determine whether the Court maintains or flips its 4–3 conservative leaning majority. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, it allowed scores of state pro-life laws across the country to be enforced for the first time in nearly half a century. Among them was 940.04, a law dating back to 1849 that makes it a felony for an abortionist (but not a pregnant mother) to commit an abortion for any reason other than to save the mother’s life.

Wisconsin Democrat Gov. Tony Evers has threatened to give clemency to any abortionist prosecuted under the law, and Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul says he will not prosecute anyone who violates it (both men won re-election to their current offices last November). But the threat of the law being enforced by lower levels of government has still gotten Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to suspend abortions until the legal landscape changes.

Evers and Kaul also filed a legal challenge to the law, claiming that modern state laws effectively cancel it out and that it was too old to have the consent of current Wisconsinites (a premise that, if adopted, would have drastic ramifications for all corners of American law).