When Brian Hagedorn decided to run for election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, he braced for incoming attacks on his character.
“I knew that there would be systematic efforts, backed by millions of dollars, aimed at doing everything possible to personally destroy me,” Brian says. “When that happens, you better be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.”
On August 14, 2019, Brian took the oath of office as Wisconsin’s newest Supreme Court justice.
The ceremony followed some tumultuous years in which he served as Governor Scott Walker’s legal adviser. Political opponents labeled him a bigot for supporting a Christian private school that taught a biblical view of sexuality.
Brian promised during the campaign that he would interpret cases according to the existing law rather than from his own personal opinions.
“My goal is just being faithful to apply the laws as they are written by the people, and putting aside my own views as I do that,” Brian says. “I certainly hope to be a leader in the judiciary as well as in Wisconsin in general.”
To get to that point, he had to make peace with the idea that he would run as himself rather than trying to project an image every voter would approve.
“I’m not going to apologize for my faith in Christ,” Brian says, “and I make the case publicly that I can be a faithful Christian and a faithful judge. If I (had lost) because of that, so be it. That’s fine. My hope isn’t in this world, and it isn’t in achieving any position.”
Within six months of graduation from Trinity International University, Brian Hagedorn determined he would study law. But even a few years later, when he entered Northwestern University Law School, he wasn’t sure how he would apply his Christian worldview to the legal profession. Years later, after graduation, he found himself employed but still searching.
“I worked at a law firm in Milwaukee for a few years, and I knew that in the end that wasn’t going to be a long-term fit for me,” Brian says. “It wasn’t until after that when I clerked for our state Supreme Court that I thought what a great opportunity that could be.”
Brian says he began to think critically about life and his role as an adult while studying philosophy at Trinity. He remains in contact with TIU professor of philosophy Chris Firestone and several other professors who taught him while he was a student. Every Memorial Day, he and his wife Christina (whom he met at TIU) get together with college friends and relive the old days.
When he first arrived as a freshman at Trinity, Brian says he felt he had everything in life figured out. He quickly learned not everything in life comes into focus immediately.
His advice to incoming Trinity students: “Don’t worry so much about what you’re going to do. Worry about who you are going to be. That involves your relationship with the Lord — pursuing him first. It involves study habits and the way you treat people. It’s your intellectual curiosity and the rigor with which you think.”
When Brian started at Northwestern, he worried he might be in the wrong place. He started law school with graduates of Harvard, Yale, and a student who had been an investment banker in Hong Kong.
“I was as well prepared as any of them,” Brian says. “Trinity helped ground me in the gospel.”