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State Supreme Court

Wisconsin Supreme Court entrance 

There are reasons aplenty to make sure you vote in the election on Tuesday, April 2 (or earlier at numerous early voting sites or by mail). But there’s one big reason to motivate you if you are inclined to sit on your duff and let others decide who wins.

That reason is the choice for state Supreme Court justice. The outcome of this race couldn’t be more important and the contrast between the two candidates couldn’t be greater.

The race is so important because the Koch brothers and other right-wing interests have invested tens of millions of dollars over the past few years to turn our state Supreme Court, once one of the most respected courts in the land, into a hard-right, deeply partisan body that has little to do with justice and everything to do with advancing an ideological and partisan agenda.

The April 2 election gives us the chance to start turning that around.

In a cynical strategy to win a potentially low-turnout election by pandering to the hardcore Trump base, the right wing is running an extremist whose hateful views have caused even some traditional Republican interests to withdraw their support. That right-wing candidate is Judge Brian Hagedorn, who is completely unsuited to decide the most important legal cases in our state.

Hagedorn claims that sex between unmarried, consenting adults (or even married same-sex couples) is equivalent to sex with animals. He wrote that a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down laws criminalizing sex between consenting adults was a travesty that "should render laws prohibiting bestiality unconstitutional.” He even helped found a school that not only expels students if they are gay but also if their parents are gay or unmarried.

He served as Scott Walker’s legal right-hand man. To return the favor, Walker rewarded him with a judgeship. In his few years as a judge, Hagedorn has abused the position for personal profit. He made thousands of dollars giving speeches to hate groups. His speeches are apparently so offensive that he refuses to make them public despite requests by good-government groups that he do so.

Fortunately, we have an outstanding alternative. Her reputation is so stellar that she is supported by 332 other judges. In fact, an astounding 98 percent of the judges who have made an endorsement are supporting Judge Lisa Neubauer.

Judge Neubauer, in addition to her outstanding legal career, has been a leader in her community of Racine. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her community service and the list of charitable organizations she has help lead would fill a column by itself.

Most important, Judge Neubauer in her decade on the bench has proved herself to be fair-minded, impartial and respectful.

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Brian Hagedorn has the right to hold whatever religious beliefs he chooses, no matter how intolerant or hateful. But he should not be allowed to use the state’s highest court to impose his extreme views on the rest of us.

Hagedorn is betting only his hardcore base will vote this April. If he gains a seat on the Supreme Court because of low turnout and you sit home and let that happen, I guess you’ll know who is to blame. Sorry to sound so harsh, but too much is at stake not to tell it straight.

Make sure you vote on April 2 for Lisa Neubauer.

Spencer Black served for 26 years in the state Legislature. He was chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and the Assembly Democratic leader. Since leaving the Legislature, Black has been vice president for conservation for the national Sierra Club and adjunct professor of planning at UW-Madison.

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