On Tuesday, voters will decide which two candidates will serve a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The race features Appeals Judge Lisa Neubauer, who is backed by liberals, and Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn, whom conservatives support. The winner will replace Shirley Abrahamson, who's considered one of the court's liberal justices. She chose not to seek re-election, after more than 40 years on the bench.
We caught up with both candidates on the campaign trail. Below we chat with Neubauer.
Why are you running for Wisconsin Supreme Court?
"I am running because I am really fighting for a fair, impartial, independent court. What does that mean? It means when people walk through our courthouse doors, they need to know that they will receive justice. No thumb on the scale, no ideology, no agenda, no predetermined outcomes. That's the kind of judge I've been for 11 years on the Court of Appeals, and that's the kind of Justice I will continue to be, if I'm honored to be elected by the people of our state on April 2."
What's the top reason voters should select you?
"Because I have far more experience and qualifications than my opponent. I have over 30 years in the law. I clerked for a federal judge before I started a very successful legal career, for almost 19 years. I rose through the ranks. I made partner, I've had extensive experience in the courts and now I've been on the Court of Appeals for 11 years. I have had the opportunity in that role to literally decide thousands of cases, and I've been made chief by our Wisconsin Supreme Court twice. I've had a lot of leadership experience, I've had a lot of leadership opportunities and I've had a lot of experience to work with a lot of people."
What's the top reason you believe voters shouldn't choose your opponent?
"The voters have a lot of information, the press has been very active in this campaign in putting out a lot of information about my opponent. He has been involved, as a judge, in starting a school that bans gay people, students and parents, teachers. He has aligned himself, as a judge, in giving speeches to a group labeled as a hate group and many other things, writings on key constitutional issues. So, the voters have a lot of information to consider, in deciding who between us they trust will be fair, impartial and independent."
What's your judicial philosophy?
"Very straightforward. No agenda, no ideology, no predetermined outcomes. I approach every single case with an open mind and my intent and what I believe I've done consistently for 11 years is to look at the law, follow the constitution, figure out what the case presents. I look at every individual case as a separate case involving people, and I believe that that is the approach that's reflected in my thousands of decisions."
If elected, what kind of cases do you think you would be asked to rule on in the next year or two?
"There's been articles in the paper about the kinds of cases that are going up to the Supreme Court and many of them they've accepted. I don't really have a guess of something to provide to your viewers on what I think that docket might look like. They typically take about 70 cases a year, our court decides hundreds. I'm just going to keep on, keepin' on and I will come to every single case that's up there, with an open mind."