Friends of Brian Hagedorn
Northwestern University School of Law (JD), Trinity International University (BA)
Our constitution establishes three branches of government: the legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch executes the laws, and the judiciary applies the law to the facts of a given case. This means that personal political values have no place on the bench. The judge’s role is to say what the law is, not what the judge thinks the law should be.
I was appointed to serve on the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates and enforces the Code of Judicial Conduct. So I am well aware of the types of ethical issues facing the judiciary. I am always open to considering how we might update the code of judicial conduct to further inspire confidence in our courts. The current recusal rule arguably does require recusal in certain, limited cases involving campaign contributors. Any new proposed rule should take into account the unique nature of the Supreme Court’s role where no one else can fill in for a recused justice, respect the First Amendment, and discourage use of recusal as a weapon. We also must avoid spreading the misperception that judges are swayed in their judicial decision-making by modest campaign support—whether financial or otherwise. The core problem is confidence in our courts. And the most important way to resolve that is to have judges who keep their politics out of the courtroom and apply the law as written.
Judicial elections have become increasingly expensive, and are now often filled with the same tactics as other political races. The question is why. The blame lies primarily at the feet of the judicial branch, which over time has acted more and more like a super-legislature rather than impartial arbiters of the law. The solution is for the judiciary to return to the more modest role envisioned by our founders. But so long as every controversial political issue is decided by courts, it should be no surprise that people treat the courts like other political branches. Citizens also have a right to speak up about their courts, as groups like the League of Women Voters regularly do. The First Amendment protects and encourages robust debate over things that matter. And the Constitution and the rule of law matter.
The most important task is to return confidence and trust to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This means putting aside personal differences and working together collegially and with mutual respect. Most importantly, this means being a court that can be counted on to decide cases based on the law rather than political considerations. The job of a judge is to say what the law is, not what the judge thinks the law should be.
Judge Neubauer for Justice
B.A., UW-Madison '79
J.D., University of Chicago '87
With over 30 years of courtroom experience as a lawyer and a judge, I have dedicated my life to the law and believe in fair representation at every step in our judicial process. Judges should not be partisan politicians. Our duty is to interpret the constitution and the law without bias, an agenda, ideology, or a predetermined outcome in mind. What I bring to the court is a deep commitment to a fair, impartial and independent court. The public’s perception of our court is critical to our entire system of justice. The court’s legitimacy depends on the public’s confidence.
I support consideration of a stronger recusal rule, which means hearing from the bench, the bar, all stakeholders and the public on this important issue. This is a complex issue which needs careful and judicious consideration to avoid unintended consequences, but needs to be examined openly so that we can maintain the faith of the public, which is crucial to our democracy.
I am running for the Supreme Court because our next justice must be fair, impartial and independent. We need to have a court that is free of partisan influence. The out of state unaccountable money spent on our supreme court races has undermined the public’s confidence in our judiciary. That is why so many from the judiciary - over 325 judges statewide - are supporting my candidacy. The courthouse community, including the sheriffs and district attorneys, have had enough of the concerted effort to partisanize our courts by out of state interests spending millions in a single race. Our supreme court candidates must be chosen on the basis of qualifications and merits.
- Public hearings on a stronger recusal rule
- Open conferences for rules petitions
- Continued attention to access to justice initiatives and funding for legal services for the poor
- Prioritization of treatment courts, and alternatives to incarceration when appropriate