A High-Stakes, High-Court Election

A High-Stakes, High-Court Election

2019 | Week of March 18 | Radio Transcript #1300

On April 2, Wisconsin voters will be asked to decide who will be the next justice on our state supreme court. Other important local races will be on ballots, but the supreme court race is the only statewide race.

In my opinion, electing a justice to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is one of the most important duties I have as a citizen.

While it’s often challenging to get reliable and clear information about judicial candidates, it’s possible—and organizations like ours do our best to help. In fact, we now have available our Wisconsin Family Council educational voter information publication with some comparisons between the judicial candidates.

Last week we mailed 25,000 copies of this document to about 500 churches. It is also available on our website and can be downloaded and printed as well. Our website is wifamilycouncil.org. Just click on the election slide on the home page. We urge you to check out this publication because it will help you vote knowledgeably and responsibly. The publication is carefully researched with references cited and meets the IRS requirements for distribution in churches and other not-for-profit organizations.

Regarding this election, we have two sitting judges vying for the seat being vacated by current justice Shirley Abrahamson who announced last year that she would not be running for another term.  The two judges running are Judge Brian Hagedorn from Oconomowoc and Judge Lisa Neubauer from Racine. Both are judges on Wisconsin’s District II Appellate Court, but you need to know much more than that.

Our voter information publication gives the judges’ legal background, statements about why they are running or about their judicial philosophy, what they think about partisanship in the courts and also includes major endorsements and interest groups that are backing the candidates.

For instance, on the major endorsements and interest group backing, Hagedorn has been endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin, current Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Dan Kelly and Rebecca Bradley, and by former Wisconsin supreme court justices Michael Gabelman, David Prosser and Jon Wilcox. Neubauer has been endorsed by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, WI Working Families Party, the Teamsters Joint Council 39, and Wisconsin Education Association Council more commonly known as WEAC and Eric Holder’s special interest group the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

To give you some idea of how special interest groups operate, a couple of weeks ago, Eric Holder’s group announced they are committing $350,000 to help get Neubauer elected. Another special interest group, One Wisconsin Now, has been using its media influence to attempt to persuade voters that because Brian Hagedorn has helped start a Christian school that upholds biblical values, and because Judge Hagedorn has ties with the conservative legal coalition Alliance Defending Freedom, he is, in their words, “unfit” and “disqualified” from serving as a justice on our supreme court. Greater Wisconsin, another special interest group, has been running ads with pretty much the same message.  Suffice it to say, special interest groups can make a huge difference in a race.

So what’s at stake with this race? Court observers tell us our Supreme Court currently has a 4-3 conservative majority. Shirley Abrahamson is considered a liberal. If Hagedorn wins this year, the conservative majority is strengthened at 5-2. However, it’s not just about this year’s supreme court race. Court observers and political pundits are looking ahead.

Next spring conservative Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly will be on the ballot. But that election won’t be just a typical spring election. That election will also be the Democratic Presidential Primary, which is causing political pundits to assume Dan Kelly has no way to win next year.  That means if Hagedorn loses this year, who pundits say is conservative, and Dan Kelly loses next year, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court would flip from being 4-3 conservative to 4-3 liberal.

Ultimately it’s up to the voters to determine the outcome. The important thing is you vote knowledgeably, responsibly and prayerfully—and engage others to join you. It’s definitely a high-stake election.

For more information and to learn how you can support the work of Wisconsin Family Council, please visit wifamilycouncil.org or call 888-378-7395.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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