MADISON, Wis. — There was no shortage of legal battles in Wisconsin this year, from abortion rights to election administration, and even air and water pollution.

Spectrum News 1 Political Reporter Anthony DaBruzzi recently sat down with the state’s attorney general for a conversation about where things stand on some of the biggest topics.

You can watch the interview above.


Access to abortion in Wisconsin

recent ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court found the Wisconsin law from 1849 does not ban consensual abortions.

The case will most likely find its way to the state’s highest court where Attorney General Josh Kaul said he hopes a final decision will provide the clarity that he feels both patients and physicians need.

Kaul pointed to states such as Texas and Ohio where women have been denied access and even face criminal charges.

“We could have been a state facing horrific circumstances like that, but we’re not,” Kaul explained. “Instead, we’re in a position where access has been partially restored in the state, and, hopefully, it will be conclusively restored.”

Legal fight to save Meagan Wolfe’s job

Kaul is also fighting to let the state’s top elections official, Meagan Wolfe, keep her job after facing criticism from Republicans in the wake of the 2020 election.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe discusses 2020 during a WisPolitics event in Madison, Wis. (Spectrum News 1/Anthony DaBruzzi)

“These attacks are not about the work the [Wisconsin] Elections Commission has done, but because people didn’t like the outcome of certain elections, and I’m hopeful that these attacks will fail,” Kaul said. “And legally speaking, the claims that have been made are really without merit. I sent a letter to Legislative Counsel before the Senate took action, making clear that they didn’t have the authority to vote to remove Meagan Wolfe. They took a vote anyway, and then in court they conceded that vote didn’t have any legal significance, and that is important because it establishes that they are without a leg to stand on legally speaking.”

Wisconsin’s fake Trump electors

10 Republicans who posed as fake electors in 2020 settled a civil lawsuit earlier this month in which they admitted Joe Biden won and agreed not to serve as electors in 2024 or in any other election where Donald Trump’s name is on the ballot.

Meanwhile, the state’s Department of Justice is staying pretty mum on the matter and whether there is an ongoing investigation.

“I’m glad that they have admitted, more than three years after the fact, that President Biden won the election,” Kaul added. “That is indisputable and there was a partial recount, as well as a lot of litigation on that in Wisconsin, and I think that anybody who committed crimes in an effort to overturn the results of the election should be held accountable.”

Funding the Office of School Safety

Keeping kids safe is another priority for Kaul’s Department of Justice, and making sure there is enough money for the Office of School Safety to operate was a big challenge this year.  

“That office has done a lot to keep kids in our schools in Wisconsin safe,” Kaul explained. “They have launched innovative programs, and that includes a 24/7 tip line that anybody associated with a school can use.”

Attorney General Josh Kaul speaks about school safety during a press conference held in Sun Prairie last year. (Spectrum News 1/Mandy Hague)

One-time funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is keeping the service up and running, at least for now.

“We’re going to need action from the Legislature, and it’s got to happen in the current legislative session because the next state budget won’t pass until the middle of 2025,” Kaul said. “That’s about six months after that office will run out of funding.”

Biggest accomplishments of 2023

2023 brought legal victories and Wisconsin topped the nation in Drug Take Back Day collections, which are just a few of the accomplishments Kaul is pleased about.  

“We continue to work to strengthen the state’s response to sexual assault," Kaul added. "We’ve put out best practice guidance for sexual assault response teams and launched an anti-human trafficking task force, so on those issues and many others, I’m proud of the work that we’re doing. It’s a privilege to be able to work to advance the best interests of the people of the state of Wisconsin.”

As for 2024, the state’s top cop said the Department of Justice will continue to build on the work it has been doing over the last year. One specific area where Kaul feels the most progress can be made is in efforts to prevent domestic violence.