2019               General Election   Lost 49.8 to 50.2



Wisconsin elects judges. Seven justices on its Supreme Court. Sixteen Judges on its Court of Appeals. Two hundred forty-one judges on its several Circuit Courts. The Supreme Court term is 10 years. The term for the other courts is six years. The governor appoints when there is a vacancy. A judge who wants to continue in his or her role must run for election. The elections are non-partisan. There is a single non-partisan primary in February if, for example, there are four or more candidates for a seat. Otherwise, one, two, or three candidates run in the general election on the first Tuesday in April. April 2 this year.


According to Ballotpedia, Lisa Neubauer https://judgeneubauer.com/ has said that she should not be considered the Democratic nominee for the seat in the upcoming non-partisan election. “It would be unfortunate to give me that label rather than look at my record on the court of appeals. My partisan views, or anybody’s partisan views, are not relevant to my decision making,”

Her opponent, Brian Hagedorn said his work in the Walker administration should not be seen as a conservative or pro-governor job. “It’s a very different role to have a client and advocate for them and serve them than it is to read the law and call it like you see it,”

Not many people agree with either candidate. I don’t. The seven person court has four Republicans and three Democrats. The seat becoming vacant has been held by Shirley Abrahamson, a Democrat. The seat coming up for election in 2020 is held by Republican Dan Kelly. A victory by Neubauer would make it possible for a Democrat to be elected in 2020 and shift the balance of the Court from 4-3 Republican to 4-3 Democrat.

Political Implications

We have seen, on the US Supreme Court, important differences between conservative and liberal justices. On social issues. Women’s rights and interests. The right of same sex marriage. On civil rights. What does freedom of religion mean? Freedom of speech? On rights and obligations of corporations.

To some, there is no issue more important than those associated with democracy itself. Voting rights. Voting districts.

Voting districts have been an issue for Wisconsin. In Wisconsin the confluence of the 2010 Republican wave election and the redistricting that occurs after every census transformed Wisconsin’s politics. Republicans redistricted and locked in control of the state legislature.

  • In 2018, Democrat Tony Evers won the governorship with 49.6% of the vote to the incumbent Republican’s 48.4%.
  • In 2018, the incumbent Democratic US Senator Tammy Baldwin was reelected with 55.4% of the vote to 44.6%
  • In 2018, Republicans won 5 of 8 Congressional Districts. Democrats achieved a majority of the total votes for US Congress – if votes for the uncontested Democratic seat are credited. The Congressional district results were slightly skewed in the wrong direction.
  • In 2018, Republicans won 63 seats to the Democrats 35 in the State Assembly. Democrats won a majority of the vote there as well – if votes for uncontested seats are credited. The results were way more than slightly skewed in the wrong direction.

Something is wrong. Undemocratic. Unfair. The US Supreme Court as it is constituted does not want to address this issue. It sent Wisconsin Democrats away explaining the plaintiffs did not have standing.

Would the Wisconsin Supreme Court require fairer districts? Would they find such a requirement in the Wisconsin state constitution? Would they if the Wisconsin Court had a Democratic majority?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found such a requirement in the Pennsylvania constitution. The North Carolina Supreme Court may find such a requirement in the North Carolina constitution. Wisconsin? It wouldn’t hurt to find out. The first step is retaining a Democratic seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. On April 2.


Lisa Neubauer. Chief Judge of the Wisconsin Appeals Court. University of Wisconsin. The University of Chicago Law School. Member of The Law School’s honor society. Clerk in the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. In private practice for twenty years. A Milwaukee firm. Specialized in Environmental Cleanup Litigation.

Appointed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in 2007. Elected to a full term in 2008 with bipartisan support including an endorsement from a former head of the Wisconsin Republican Party. After being reelected in 2014, appointed Chief Judge of the Appeals Court by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Lisa Neubauer is familiar with electoral politics. Her husband is a former state representative. Her daughter is currently a state representative. She explains she has chosen a different path from the politicians in her family. Her website is a study in presenting judicial respectability; in avoiding anything partisan.

She lists her supporters by name:

  • Twenty-four current and former Court of Appeals Judges
  • Two retired federal judges
  • Nearly three hundred current and former circuit and municipal judges
  • Twenty-six current and former police chiefs and sheriffs
  • Fifty-five current and former district attorneys.

Her opponent is in his early forties. Brian Hagedorn graduated from Trinity International University, an evangelical school in Deerfield, IL in 2000.   He is a graduate of Northwestern Law School. Before serving as Scott Walker’s chief legal council for five years, Hagedorn practiced in the Milwaukee law firm where Neubauer had been a partner.

Hagedorn had earned notoriety for his law school blog – anno domini — The Year of Our Lord. The AP reports he called Planned Parenthood a ‘wicked organization’ and denounce[ed] court rulings favoring gay rights by likening homosexuality to bestiality. He has also been criticized for his campaign. One Wisconsin Now, which describes itself as non-profit and non-partisan, = monitored candidate fund raising. They criticize Hagedorn for taking money from an advocate of voter suppression and from real estate special interests. They criticize his team. A fundraising consultant accused of physically assaulting a female colleague. A consultant who holds Wisconsin’s record for the largest campaign violation fine.

Of course, Wisconsin Democrats also criticize him. They say Hagedorn conflates his personal opinions with his legal opinions.

Lisa Neubauer https://judgeneubauer.com/ may minimize partisan politics in this upcoming non-partisan election. That minimization is consistent with her history and her interests. Let’s share that effort. Give her some non-partisan resources. Both candidates are raising and spending money. Neubauer had more money on hand at last count, but was out raised in January. If you can afford to help her, you will be helping women, minorities, and, perhaps, democracy.