MADISON (WKOW) — State Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn took the oath of office at a public ceremony at the State Capitol Wednesday. The inauguration results in a shift to a 5-2 conservative majority.
“I’m not pro-Republican or pro-Democrat… I will be a pro-law judge,” said Hagedorn.
Justice Hagedorn replaced longtime liberal-backed Justice Shirley Abrahamson who retired this year after serving more than 40 years on the court.
UW-Madison political science expert Ryan Owens said the makeup of the court means conservatives will have the opportunity to write a majority of opinions for cases this session, which can give Republican organizations the benefit when filing lawsuits.
Last month the conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (W.I.L.L.) filed a lawsuit which would dramatically reduce the governor’s partial veto powers. The high court is deciding whether to rule on the case.
“I think we’ll want to keep an eye on things like Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and some of their challenges that they’re bringing and I think they might be successful,” said Owens.
During Hagedorn’s campaign, he was criticized for blog post from 2005 which he compared homosexuality to bestiality and wrote Planned Parenthood was a “wicked” organization. He defended those attacks during the campaign saying he would be impartial on the bench.
“I think the attacks on Hagedorn’s religious background, I think those backfired,” said Owens. “I really think those fired up the conservative base.”
Hagedorn defeated Judge Lisa Neubauer by less than 1-percentage point. Reports reveal it was the most expensive Supreme Court race in Wisconsin’s history.
The next Supreme Court race will be in April when conservative-backed Justice Dan Kelly will run to keep his seat.