MADISON — Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn on Monday defended blog posts he wrote more than a decade ago in which he said a landmark gay rights court ruling could lead to legalized bestiality and labeled Planned Parenthood a “wicked organization.”
Hagedorn made his first public comments on the blogs, written when he was in law school in 2005 and 2006, since the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on them last week.
Hagedorn, an evangelical Christian, told conservative WTAQ-AM talk radio host John Muir that he can separate his personal opinion from the law.
“Every single judge who puts on a robe has views about the world,” he said. “My job as a judge is to say what the law is and not what I think the law should be. ... I’m not running to impose whatever my viewpoints are, whether they’re the same or different than they were 12 years ago.”
Hagedorn faces liberal-backed Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Lisa Neubauer, of Racine, in the April 2 election.
Neubauer is chief judge on the state appeals court where Hagedorn is also a judge. Hagedorn served as then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s chief legal counsel before Walker appointed him to the appeals court in 2015. He was elected to a full term in 2017.
The winner will replace liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson on a court currently controlled 4-3 by conservatives.
Neubauer campaign manager Tyler Hendricks said people expect judges to be impartial and fair.
“Unfortunately, as made clear from these statements and from his record as Scott Walker’s lawyer, Brian Hagedorn will bring his personal, extreme and radical agenda to the Supreme Court,” Hendricks said.
“If you have ever been a Catholic or Christian of various stripes you’re going to get attacked for your faith,” Hagedorn said. “I think it’s unfortunate and that’s not the way things are supposed to be. We don’t have a religious test for public office.”
Hagedorn said “the idea that personally expressed views from years ago means you need to (withdraw from cases) now is just flat-out wrong.”
Hagedorn said critics of his blog, which was addressed to “fellow soldiers in the culture wars,” were “cherry-picking views that they think are unmentionable or that they think are not politically correct.”
Hagedorn made blog posts on a number of topics while in law school in 2005, including saying it was a travesty that a Texas anti-sodomy law had been struck down.
“The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable,” he wrote.
He also wrote about “why I hate Planned Parenthood” and called it a “wicked organization” that was more devoted “to killing babies than to helping women.” Hagedorn also said that the NAACP, the national civil rights group, was a “partisan hack” and a “disgrace to America.”