After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned precedent that protected the right to an abortion nationwide, Illinois Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Rochford saw increased interest in her current election campaign for one of the state's open Supreme Court seats. Rochford said the renewed attention has given candidates an opportunity to get the public more engaged. Illinois is one of the 30 states holding elections this year, and is one of a handful where the partisan leaning of the court is on the line, according to Law.com. Candidates in the judicial elections are prohibited from stating how they would rule, but voters are more motivated to follow the issues, Illinois Appellate Court Judge Mary Kay O'Brien said.
It isn't the first time a U.S. Supreme Court decision increased awareness of state judicial races, said Betrall Ross, a law professor at the University of Virginia. in 2019, justices held that federal courts could not decide partisan gerrymandering issues, and redrawn maps were being challenged. Ross suspects a similar situation will play out following the Dobbs ruling on abortion. The outcome of this year's Supreme Court elections won't be clear until close to voting day. Other states with high-stakes judicial races this year include North Carolina, Michigan and Ohio, where one party has slim control over the court.