As the Gableman-Butler race enters it’s final weekend, race is attracting national attention. From Newsweek:
A fundraising letter from challenger Mike Gableman’s campaign accuses incumbent Justice Louis Butler of being the “deciding vote” in a decision that resulted “in the release of [a sexual] predator into Milwaukee County.” But the predator was never released.
An ad paid for by a liberal group implies that Gableman got his lower court seat by writing checks to the then-governor’s campaign. The ad provides no evidence, though, that anything unethical occurred.
Another ad, this one from a conservative organization, implies that the incumbent overturned a murder conviction despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt. But Butler based his ruling on new DNA evidence that undercut a key part of the prosecution’s case.
The last time Badger State voters had a chance to vote on Justice Butler, in 2000, the then-Milwaukee County Municipal Judge lost by nearly 2-1 to then-state Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes. But when a seat opened up on the high court in 2004 with the elevation of Justice Sykes to the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Democratic Governor Jim Doyle appointed Judge Butler to the slot.
Liberals suddenly enjoyed a 5-4 majority on the court, and it swung sharply to the left. The court systematically dismantled the state’s tort reform laws, eliminating caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice rulings. In another case, the court made Wisconsin the only state to accept “collective liability” for manufacturers in cases involving lead paint. Whether a company actually produced the paint became irrelevant to guilt or innocence.
Looking at the medical malpractice ruling, Judge Sykes noted in a speech that “the court’s majority is making a political policy judgment, not a legal one.” Also noticing were members of the state’s business community, which has proceeded to finance an election challenge to Justice Butler. Many have rallied around the strong challenge by Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman, a former state prosecutor. In a campaign of dueling TV ads, opponents who often call Justice Butler, a former public defender, “Loophole Louis” have been criticizing his criminal jurisprudence.
Trying to make sense of the race buy focusing on the record, Americans For Prosperity informs us the Sam Adams Alliance* has launched a new website:
Judgepedia.com, an online wiki-encyclopedia about all things related to America’s judges and judicial system. Currently, the website is providing Wisconsin voters with detailed, easy-to-read information on the Supreme Court candidates and their court rulings.
*Correction made. See comments.