State Supreme Court candidates weigh in potential recusals, gun rights, Planned Parenthood

Election Day is Tuesday
State Supreme Court candidates weigh in potential recusals, gun rights, Planned Parenthood
Submitted photos
Lisa Neubauer and Brian Hagedorn

The candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court are in the final stretch before Election Day.

Judge Brian Hagedorn, who is backed by conservatives, closed out his campaign Monday at private events in the Green Bay area, while his opponent, liberally-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer, made a final pitch to students on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.

The two candidates face off Tuesday for the seat left vacant by longtime Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Recusal in cases

Hagedorn said, if elected, he would consider recusing himself from cases involving former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, after previously serving as Walker’s chief legal counsel. Neubauer said she would consider recusing herself from cases involving the liberal group run by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, which donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help her win.

Planned Parenthood endorsed Neubauer in the race and spent big money to help her, while Hagedorn previously called Planned Parenthood a “wicked organization.”

News 3 Now also asked both candidates if they would recuse themselves from cases involving Planned Parenthood. Neubauer would not say, while Hagedorn said no.

“There would be no reason to do that,” Hagedorn said.

“For every decision I make on the Supreme Court, I want to come to it with an open mind: No agenda no ideology, no bias, no pre-determined outcomes,” Neubauer said.

A bitter race

The race is officially non-partisan, but partisan groups are backing the candidates. Hagedorn has been criticized after blog posts surfaced in which he made controversial comments about abortion and bestiality, as well as the news that he founded a private school that could ban students and teachers for being gay.

Hagedorn would not say if he’s distancing himself from those views but said he is not campaigning on them either.

“I’m not going back to say, ‘Here’s what I agree with. Here’s what I disagree with’ from writings from when I was a student. The fact that we’re talking about that again shows that this has nothing to do with what this race is actually about,” Hagedorn said.

Republican organizations have run ads calling Neubauer “Liberal Lisa” and suggesting that she would advance socialism. Neubauer said from the first day of her campaign, she called for outside money to stay out.

“The money that’s come into this race — I mean, I read about that in the paper. The third party money doesn’t come to me,” she said.

Issues that matter to the candidates

Neubauer did not name specific issues that she would like to help resolve in Wisconsin, but said unlike the Court of Appeals where she and Hagedorn currently serve, the Supreme Court chooses which cases it takes on.

“That would be something you would look at the cases on a case-by-case basis and decide, ‘Is this an issue that’s unresolved in our state? Is this an issue that needs clarification?'” Neubauer said.

Hagedorn cited the drug epidemic as an issue for which he would want to help advocate, if elected as a justice.

“I would love to be a part of that conversation and help lead in that effort at the Wisconsin Supreme Court dealing with our opiate and meth crisis that’s hitting our state,” he said.

When News 3 Now asked the two candidates how they would decide a case involving gun rights, Neubauer would not say, while Hagedorn said he would uphold the right to bear arms.

“I wouldn’t speak to any issue that’s come before our court in advance because that would be inappropriate,” Neubauer said, adding that she would keep an open mind.

“We do have a right to bear arms written in our Constitution. We not only have it in our federal Constitution, but it’s actually written into our state Constitution, as well,” Hagedorn said, calling it a “live issue.”

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