Abortion Debate and Gerrymandering: State Judicial Races Take Center Stage in 2024

The 2024 elections are not only about the presidential race and control of Congress; they also feature another critical battleground: state supreme court seats. These judicial races, spanning 33 states and involving 80 seats, have become highly contested and costly affairs. Why? The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, has shifted the abortion debate to the states. As a result, we’re witnessing a “new era” in state supreme court elections, marked by unprecedented attention and campaign spending.

The Abortion Challenge

At least 38 lawsuits challenging abortion bans have been filed in 23 states, and many of these cases are expected to reach state supreme courts. The stakes are high, as these courts will play a pivotal role in shaping abortion rights at the state level. Advocacy groups, donors, and political parties are closely monitoring these races, recognizing their significance in the wake of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Abortion rights protest

Gerrymandering and Voting Rights

Beyond abortion, other critical issues are also at play. Gerrymandering—the practice of manipulating electoral district boundaries to favor a particular party—has drawn attention. In states where redistricting battles are ongoing, state supreme courts may play a decisive role in determining fair district maps. Additionally, voting rights cases are making their way through the legal system, with implications for access to the ballot box. These issues are driving unprecedented interest and financial investment in state judicial races.

The 2023 Precedent

Last year, heated court battles in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania foreshadowed the intensity of the 2024 contests. Democrats secured victories in those states, and tens of millions of dollars were poured into TV ads. These races have prompted political groups to consider investing in states they previously overlooked. Ohio, for instance, is positioning its state supreme court races as an extension of the November election, where voters enshrined the right to abortion in the state constitution. With over 30 existing abortion restrictions, Ohio’s court battles are closely watched.


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