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Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate won’t guarantee recusal from Act 10 cases, even though he helped draft it

March 7, 2019

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn said Wednesday he won’t guarantee he would step down from future cases about Act 10, the 2011 law that reduced the power of public-sector labor unions, even though he had a role in drafting it.

Speaking to a panel of journalists at an event hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com, Hagedorn said recusal would depend on the situation, particularly whether he had a direct role in the part of the law that was challenged.

“Act 10 involved a lot of different pieces and things, that some of which I might have been more involved in than others,” Hagedorn said. “It would depend on the type of claim that was raised.”

Judges can recuse themselves from cases when they determine the case may present a conflict of interest.

Conservative-backed Hagedorn, a Wisconsin Appeals Court judge, was chief legal counsel for former Republican Gov. Scott Walker when he had a role in drafting the legislation that would define Walker’s political legacy. In addition to reducing the power of labor unions, the law, among other things, ended the practice of union dues being deducted directly from worker paychecks.

Hagedorn added there are likely some potential cases involving Walker he would recuse himself on, but that it would depend on the case.

Hagedorn questioned whether his opponent, Wisconsin Appeals Court Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer, would be influenced by her policy views in her judgments.

A spokesman for Hagedorn didn’t respond to a request seeking comment.

Hagedorn this year has faced scrutiny over a blog he kept about a decade ago detailing anti-gay views, such as arguing that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law could lead to the legalization of bestiality.

He most recently lost the endorsement of the Wisconsin Realtors Association after news broke that he helped found and continues to serve on the board of an academy that reserves the right to dismiss LGBT students and teachers for engaging in homosexual activity, among other things.

Hagedorn on Wednesday defended himself, characterizing the reports as attacks on his faith and an assault on people of faith in general. He said he never sought to put his personal views in the forefront of the campaign.

He emphasized there is no religious test for public office, and that he does not think anyone needs to agree with his personal views.

Meanwhile, the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee is airing a new TV ad knocking Hagedorn for his anti-gay views, asking how he can be fair.

Hagedorn and Neubauer face off for a 10-year term on the court April 2.

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