Wisconsin voters have another partisan choice for high court

Headline News

The Wisconsin Supreme Court race being decided Tuesday won't result in an immediate change in the ideological leaning of the court, but the stakes were high for both sides because it could make it possible for liberals to win majority control next year.

Conservatives have been in the majority since 2008, currently with a 4-3 split. Their majority would increase to 5-2 if Brian Hagedorn defeats Lisa Neubauer. A win by Neubauer would give liberals a chance to take control in 2020.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has been the final word in some of the most partisan battles in the state over the past decade. It has upheld several polarizing laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, none more so than GOP former Gov. Scott Walker's law that essentially eliminated collective bargaining for public workers.

Now with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers often at odds with the Republican-controlled Legislature, the Supreme Court's role could be even more crucial in settling disputes. Already, cases fighting laws passed by Republicans during a December lame-duck legislative session appear headed to the court.

Tuesday's outcome will also be read for clues to the 2020 election cycle, with Wisconsin seen as a critical battleground for presidential hopeful. Expected low turnout could make that difficult. Past Supreme Court races in non-presidential years has generally been around 20%.

Both Neubauer and Hagedorn are appeals court judges and insist their personal views would not affect how they would rule on the Supreme Court.

There has been no public polling in the race, but Neubauer raised more money than Hagedorn — $1.7 million to $1.3 million.

Hagedorn, 41, served as a law clerk for conservative state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Hageman served as an assistant attorney general, worked in private practice and was Walker's chief legal counsel for nearly five years. Walker appointed him to the state appeals court in 2015, and Hagedorn won election two years later.

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