We can safely assume that Dan Bice, Molly Beck and the rest of the Journal Sentinel “watchdogs” are now seeking and sorting through the religious beliefs and statements of Wisconsin’s circuit, appellate, and supreme court judges.

Ridiculous, you say? Not if you accept the new standard for “news” that Bice, Beck and the newspaper have applied to Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn. Or are a judge’s religious views only relevant if they are out of favor with the political left and their brethren at Fourth and State?

There are seven Supreme Court justices, sixteen Court of Appeals judges, and 241 Circuit judges in Wisconsin.

What possible basis can the Journal Sentinel now have for not examining their religious belief systems? Will Bice and Beck find it newsworthy to identify atheists in the same fashion as they have reported on Hagedorn?

Respected Milwaukee attorney Gordon Giampietro was blackballed by Senator Tammy Baldwin for what one of Baldwin’s judicial advisers called his “bigoted” views. As it happens, those views are orthodox Catholic beliefs. Baldwin has said she previously has supported other Catholic judicial candidates. How did she know their religion? How did she know they did not share Giampietro’s views?

We are in dangerous territory when a judge’s religious views are selectively reported and deemed newsworthy.  The obvious thrust of the Journal Sentinel’s “reporting” was that there is something amiss about Hagedorn’s evangelical faith.  

The assumption that Hagedorn or any judge will be unduly swayed by their faith obviously is troubling. But now that the Journal Sentinel and Judge Lisa Neubauer’s opposition research folks have opened this ugly door, let’s watch to see if the Journal Sentinel will follow the only logical and fair course which is to dredge up social media and other supposed evidence of untoward, faith-based beliefs.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that Hagedorn’s status as the conservative in the current campaign has made him the logical focus of special attention. I know that’s harsh. Surely there could be no newsroom bias at work here. Journal Sentinel Editor George Stanley himself would assure us that can’t be the case.