Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley won't seek reelection

NOW: Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley won’t seek reelection

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- After serving nearly 30 years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley announced she will not seek reelection.

Bradley's decision was a surprise after previously stating she would run for another fourth 10-year term in 2025. 

“My decision has not come lightly," Bradley said in a statement. "I know I can win re-election, should I run. But, it’s time to pass the torch, bringing fresh perspectives to the court."

The 73-year old's choice to step down could make it more difficult for liberals to maintain their 4-3 advantage on the high court just a year after gaining control. It comes after a hotly contested 2022 Supreme Court race that gave liberals a majority for the first time in 15 years after Justice Janet Protasiewicz was elected to the bench.

Protasiewicz heavily centered her campaign on abortion rights, an issue that Democrats say will once again define the race.

"Justice Ann Walsh Bradley announcement is a reminder to voters that the hard-fought freedoms and opportunities for democracy in our state is absolutely on the line," said Ben Wikler, chairman of Democratic Party of Wisconsin. "Voter engagement is going to be critical this fall and the spring."

A big reason why reproductive rights will be on the ballot is because justices will soon weigh in on a lawsuit that seeks to provide clarity over the state's abortion ban. 

Bradley plans to step down when her term ends on July 31, 2025. She was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1995 after serving 10 years as a Marathon County Circuit Court judge. 

Conservative and former Attorney General Brad Schimel has already announced he will run for Bradley's seat next year.

Two Dane County judges have expressed interest in running as well. Former Democratic state Rep. Chris Taylor said she's "strongly considering."

"It's been a dream of mine to be a justice on the court," Taylor said. "I think it's a court that can do incredible good for the people of this state because it has a role of justice and fairness." 

Susan Crawford, a Dane County Circuit Court judge, also express interest of entering the race. 

"I will have more to say about that in the coming weeks," Crawford said in a statement. 

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