Next Tuesday we have the incredible opportunity to elect a new state Supreme Court Justice. Thanks to the retirement of Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who has held this position for more than 40 years, this particular opportunity is even more special. It is also more important as the winner could continue to hold this seat for decades to come.

I am supporting Judge Brian Hagedorn because I know he is the only candidate that will make decisions based solely on the constitution and the law. Nothing more. Nothing less.

However, my vote for Brian goes way beyond my support for the rule of law. This time around, my vote for Supreme Court Justice is also based on my belief in religious freedom.

Because they are unable to find any flaws in his prior court rulings, Brian’s opponent and the agenda-driven media have worked in lockstep to try and persuade Wisconsin voters that being a practicing Christian is reason enough to disqualify Brian from the Supreme Court. This gutter-level tactic is not only deplorable but dangerous.

If Brian Hagedorn can be defeated for practicing his faith, the very moral fabric of our society will be ripped in two as future candidates will be vetted not on their qualifications but on the tenets of their religion. The tragic result will be the automatic debarment of anyone who practices any faith from holding any public office.

Regardless of our individual faith or the level at which we may practice it, “freedom of religion” is one of our core precious rights that should not be abused to manipulate the public just to win an election.

Electing Judge Hagedorn to the Supreme Court not only puts an incredibly qualified person on the bench, it sends the signal that we hold our right to practice any religion we may wish dearly and we will fight to protect that right. Join me in voting Judge Brian Hagedorn on April 2 for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) represents the  15th Assembly District.