Attorney General Candidate Forums: Brad Schimel And Tom Nelson

Air Date:
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With just over one month until election day, the race for Attorney General is heating up in Wisconsin. In this hour, we talk with two of the candidates in the race: Republican Brad Schimel and Libertarian Tom Nelson.

Featured in this Show

  • Wisconsin Attorney General Candidate Forum: Brad Schimel

    Central Time hosts a candidate forum with Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, who is one of three candidates running to become the state’s next Attorney General. His opponents are Democrat Susan Happ and Libertarian Tom Nelson.

  • Wisconsin Attorney General Candidate Forum: Tom Nelson

    Central Time hosts a candidate forum with Tom Nelson, the Libertarian running to become the state’s next Attorney General. His opponents are Democrat Susan Happ and Republican Brad Schimel.

  • Attorney General Candidates Sound Off On Same-Sex Marriage

    Editor’s Note: Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” spoke with the three candidates for Wisconsin attorney general about the possibility of defending the state’s same-sex marriage amendment.

    Here’s what each candidate had to say.

    Brad Schimel

    “Whatever your personal opinion about the constitutional amendment, it is our law. It was lawfully passed by the electorate and therefore your job is to go and defend it. And it’s a little misleading to pretend that if the attorney general doesn’t defend a law, it’s going to go undefended, because instead what happens is the state then has to hire an outside attorney or an outside attorney team that will come in and do this instead. We’ll spend potentially millions of dollars of extra taxpayer money because the attorney general’s not doing the job they were hired to do.

    My job as attorney general is part of the executive branch. It is not my place to decide to interpret the law and decide what’s constitutional. There has been no court that has determined conclusively that the 10th Amendment doesn’t override the 14th Amendment. We’ve got a conflict of two different constitutional amendments here and ultimately we’re not going to know the answer to this until the United States Supreme Court decides which one takes supremacy on this.”

    Tom Nelson

    “As attorney general, you’re a lawyer with a client and your client decides those policies. And what I would do, and what any attorney general would do, and what I expect Mr. Schimel or Ms. Happ would do, is call the governor up and say, “What’s our position on this?” and then advocate it.

    “Now I want to give you the political answer as a libertarian. To the extent I had any power to make the decision or influence it, the government really doesn’t belong in the marriage business. Why should the government decide who can get married and who can’t? It’s not a government function. This is the core problem with government in America today and in the world, is government prying into too many places where it doesn’t belong … and we’re getting away from that in some areas. Until recently, a man and his wife could go into the bedroom and shut the door and commit felony after felony in private by not having sex in the prescribed way. Well, we’ve pretty well gotten rid of that. We’ve grown out of that, and now we need to move out of government involving itself in marriage. It’s just not a political question.

    Susan Happ

    “That one, you know, I have a bigger issue with. It has been found to be unconstitutional not just by the court in Wisconsin, by other courts. In that case, it’s true that the voters did pass the constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The problem with that is we still have to comport with the United States Constitution. And one court after another has struck down these types of laws. And so, our ban against same-sex marriage I believe to be violative of the Equal Protection Clause, and that is a law that I would not defend.

    And look, I want to be clear. When we talk about the attorney general’s obligation to defend laws, that is absolutely true. If there is a law in direct conflict with the Wisconsin or the United States constitution, then you have to take a harder look at that. And there have been previous attorneys general who have not defended other laws, including the current attorney general who said he would not defend the domestic partnership registry. And in fact, attorney Schimel has also said that he would not defend and the domestic partnership registry. So, it’s rare and it’s the exception but it does happen where past attorneys general have declined to defend laws that they knew to be unconstitutional.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Brad Schimel Guest
  • Tom Nelson Guest
  • Susan Happ Guest