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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Keep Justice Louis Butler on the Wisconsin Supreme Court

ENDORSEMENTS 2008

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It’s imperative that voters return Justice Louis Butler to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Not only does Butler have the intelligence, integrity and experience that the state’s highest court requires, but Butler’s opponent, Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman, and his allies have run one of the most ethically challenged judicial campaigns in Wisconsin history. The bipartisan Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee went so far as to criticize a Gablemansponsored ad as “disgraceful and deliberately misleading” and “unbecoming a sitting judge and a candidate for the state’s highest court.” Gableman and his deep-pocketed supporters should not be rewarded for this bad behavior, and Wisconsin voters should repudiate their tactics on Election Day.

In contrast, there are many reasons why voters should support Justice Louis Butler. He has run an honest, distinguished, positive campaign, which mirrors his career as an attorney, judge and justice. Butler has served Milwaukee’s legal needs for decades, first as a public defender working for the poorest among us, and later serving as a judge hearing cases involving everything from parking tickets to domestic violence to murder. This well-rounded experience in Milwaukee is a highly prized asset on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Butler is the only sitting justice who has served in Milwaukee, which enables him to understand how the court’s decisions will play out in the state’s largest city (with the most complex population and legal caseload).

What’s more, the Supreme Court also administers the state’s justice system. Butler’s ties to Milwaukee help him develop policies that aid Milwaukee’s court system, which seems to be under consistent attack by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

During his time on the Supreme Court, Justice Butler has served with distinction. Butler told us that he approaches each case with an open mind and makes decisions based on the Constitution and the appropriate statutes. Butler said that each person whose case is heard by the Supreme Court can be assured that the justices are ruling in an unbiased, nonpolitical, nonpartisan manner. This is why his support spans the entire political spectrum, from the usually Republican Wisconsin Realtors Association and the Milwaukee Police Association to the usually Democratic Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. Butler is consistently within the majority, which proves that he is not highly ideological.

He said that he is proud of being able to build majorities, since no decision can be made without give-and-take. On the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Justice Butler is an asset to the state. In person, he’s smart, outspoken and unafraid to refute his opponents’ false claims about his record. That candor is refreshing and an indication that Butler is similarly candid and independent when debating cases with his fellow Supreme Court justices. That sort of debate is healthy for the people of Wisconsin, whether one is rich or poor, in business or unemployed, pro-life or prochoice, or living in Milwaukee or in the countryside. Wisconsin voters must do the right thing and return Justice Butler to the state Supreme Court. What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.

Photo by Kate Engbring