March 4, 2019

State High Court Candidate Brian Hagedorn Made His Decision, Now It’s Our Turn

Brian Hagedorn Is Not Free to Use Our Courts to Impose His Extreme, Discriminatory Views on the Rest of Us

judge brian hagedorn

State Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn is free to have his homophobic views, as vile as they may be. What he is not free to do is use our courts to impose his extreme, discriminatory views on the rest of us.

Courts are where we turn to protect our rights and it is the duty of judges, especially those seeking a ten year term on the state high court, to ensure everyone is treated equally by the law. Brian Hagedorn has shown throughout his career, in words and deeds, he cannot be trusted to fulfill this duty.

At age twenty-seven Hagedorn declared himself a “soldier in the culture war” and trained as an intern with the Alliance Defense Fund. The organization is now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom, and is categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their anti-LGBTQ advocacy, their support of legislation to outlaw homosexuality, and their litigation to deny equal rights.

Numerous media outlets have reported on a series of virulently homophobic, anti-LGBTQ blog posts from Hagedorn at that same time. For example, Hagedorn opined how a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a discriminatory Texas law could lead to the legalization of sex with animals writing, “The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable, …”

More recently, as legal counsel in the administration of Scott Walker, Hagedorn tried to use the courts to undermine a Wisconsin law providing basic rights for same sex couples, like hospital visitation and inheritance. Hagedorn took over the case after Walker fired the attorney defending the state domestic partnership registry and sought to withdraw from the case because they thought the registry was unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Hagedorn and his hateful allies.

As Walker’s top lawyer Hagedorn also explicitly urged people to vote for a conservative judicial candidate because he said it would help advance Walker’s political agenda — exposing his view of the role of the judiciary as being exactly the opposite of what his campaign talking points say he believes.

A judicial appointment for Hagedorn from Scott Walker has not allayed concerns about whether he can be trusted to set aside his discriminatory views. In 2016 Hagedorn helped found and today sits on the board of directors of a school whose official written policy bans members of the LGBTQ community from working there, would result in their termination if they were discovered to be LGBTQ and would expel students if they, or their parents, are gay.

Media reports, based on information uncovered by One Wisconsin Now, have detailed how Hagedorn has now been paid thousands of dollars and received gifts from the same Alliance Defending Freedom which trained him. Hagedorn’s campaign said the cash and gifts were given in exchange for speeches he gave at ADF sponsored conferences. The speeches were given and payments were taken while Hagedorn was a sitting judge.

Throughout his campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Brian Hagedorn has chosen not to disavow, but to embrace, his discriminatory views. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary this self described “soldier in the culture war” asks voters to trust he would set aside his ideology and treat all who would come before him equally under the law.

Brian Hagedorn has made his decision. Now it’s our turn.

# # #

Joanna Beilman-Dulin is the research director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute. She previously worked in the Wisconsin State Legislature where she focused on policy analysis and research.

Support Our Work

Make a contribution to support all the work that goes into One Wisconsin Now’s communication & accountability projects.