In our tripartite system of government, the composition of our state supreme court is every bit as important as who occupies the governor’s mansion. While spring judicial races are often an afterthought to many voters, it would be a mistake to consider the upcoming election on April 2 as any less important than last November’s races for governor, attorney general, and the state legislature.
Wisconsin voters should elect Court of Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn to a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
A good appellate judge must possess intelligence, diligence, an even-keeled temperament, wisdom, commitment to scholarship, and a sharp pen. These are all traits that I have associated with Judge Hagedorn since we met a decade ago when I was a third-year law student interning for Justice Michael Gableman and Judge Hagedorn was serving as the justice’s law clerk.
During my semester-long internship, Judge Hagedorn took it upon himself to offer tutelage and guidance that went above and beyond what was expected. The lessons I learned from him on how to approach legal issues proved invaluable during my own clerkships (including one with Justice Gableman) and into my career in private practice.
As a practicing attorney, I understand how important it is to have predictability and stability in the law. It is therefore essential that judges have a proper understanding of their role in our constitutional system.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, “[t]he courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body.” Judge Hagedorn has impeccable legal credentials and throughout his career he has been an outspoken advocate for the constitutional separation of powers between the branches of government. The people of Wisconsin would never have to fear a violation of Hamilton’s edict from a Justice Hagedorn.
In recent weeks, Judge Hagedorn has been savaged by bien pensant journalists out to use his faith to caricature him as sinister and cretinous. These calumnies grievously distort an upstanding public servant.
I can attest, based on years of friendship, that Judge Hagedorn possesses unassailable character. As but one example, about six years ago Judge Hagedorn and his wife Christina—already the proud parents of four young children—decided that they wanted to adopt. Not only did they want to add to an already sizable family, but the Hagedorns made the honorable and courageous decision to welcome into their home a girl whose mother was addicted to opioids. I can vividly recall Judge Hagedorn telling me over lunch that he had prayed about his family’s decision and knew it was the right thing to do. This is the Judge Hagedorn I have come to know and trust.
I am proud to count Judge Hagedorn as both a mentor and a friend, and I have every confidence that he would further excel on our state supreme court. He deserves your vote.
Matthew Fernholz practices civil litigation at a law firm in Waukesha.