Louis Butler

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Louis Butler
Butlerlg.jpg
Current Court Information:
Wisconsin Supreme Court
Title:   Former justice
Salary:  $ 144,000
Service:
Appointed by:   Jim Doyle
Active:   August 2004-July 2008
Preceded by:   Diane Sykes
Personal History
Born:   1952
Hometown:   Chicago, IL
Undergraduate:   Lawrence University '73
Law School:   University of Wisconsin '77

Louis Bennett Butler, Jr. is a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He served on the court from August 2004 to July 2008. He was appointed to the court by Governor Jim Doyle in August 2004, becoming the first African-American Supreme Court justice in Wisconsin history. Butler was defeated by Michael Gableman in the 2008 election.[1][2]

On May 20, 2009, Butler was recommended by Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold to replace John C. Shabaz to the Western District of Wisconsin. On September 30, 2009, Butler was nominated by President Obama to the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. However, Butler's nomination was returned to the President on December 24, 2009.[3]

In the end, Butler was nominated to the Western District of Wisconsin by President Obama four times, and all of the nominations were returned without a full Senate vote.

Federal judgeship nomination

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Louis Butler
 Court:Western District of Wisconsin
 Progress:Returned 808 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:September 30, 2009
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Well Qualified
ApprovedAQuestionnaire:Questionnaire
ApprovedAHearing:November 4, 2009
DefeatedDQFRs:
ApprovedAReported:September 23, 2010 Dec. 3, 2009, Feb. 4, 2010
DefeatedDReturned:December 17, 2011

On March 30, 2009, the Federal Nominating Commission of the Wisconsin State Bar selected Butler as a finalist to replace John C. Shabaz on the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. On May 20, 2009, Butler was formally recommended by U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl for the seat.[4][5] Butler was nominated by Barack Obama on September 30, 2009,[6][7][8][9] but the nomination was returned to the President on December 24, 2009.[10][11] The President renominated Judge Butler on January 20, 2010, [12] and the Senate Judiciary Committee again recommended approval to the Senate with a 12 - 7 vote.[13]

On September 13, 2010, President Obama again nominated Butler to the federal court.[14]

Nomination reactions

Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R) panned the nomination, noting that Butler is the first Wisconsin Supreme Court justice to have been voted off of the court in 41 years. "Mr. Butler lost a statewide election, held by the people of Wisconsin, to continue serving on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. Now, the man who was voted off the bench in Wisconsin is being given a promotion, a lifetime appointment and a pay raise." Sensenbrenner also took issue with the way that the Commission handled the recommendation process, saying that "Senator Kohl and Senator Feingold sent this nomination to the White House with no input from individuals on the other side of the aisle".[15][16]

Sens. Feingold and Kohl stood by their recommendation, saying Butler has "the qualifications, experience and intellect that will serve him well" as a federal judge.[17] Progressive Wisconsin paper The Capital Times called Butler the "best choice" for the Western District of Wisconsin.[18]

The Concerned Women for America issued a memo saying that Butler's nomination ought to be rejected by the Senate. Among the reasons they indicate for his unsuitability are "a far-left agenda of personal beliefs and political ideology," opposition to the rights of gun owners and his being twice rejected by the voters of Wisconsin for the state Supreme Court. Signatories to the memo include former Attorney General Edwin Meese, President of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist and former Indiana Congressman David McIntosh.[19]

Judiciary Committee hearing

Butler faced a confirmation hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 4, 2009 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire available here. Republicans on the committee had pointed questions for him, citing concerns that he may issue rulings slanted by judicial activism. As Senator Jeff Sessions put it, some "of his speeches and cases, on the surface, show pretty significant activist tendencies". Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a former Texas Supreme Court Justice, accused Butler of disregarding legal precedent on medical malpractice caps.[20] Democrats on the Committee defended Butler, saying he "possesses all the best qualities that we look for in a judge: intelligence, diligence, humility and integrity."[21] The Committee voted 12-7 to support Butler's nomination, with Democrats voting for and Republicans voting against.[22] The Senate returned the nomination to President Obama in December 2009.[23]

Nomination returned to President

On August 5, 2010, the Senate returned the nomination of Butler to President Obama for a second time, refusing to debate and offer a vote before the body adjourned for its month-long recess.[24] Obama re-nominated Butler once again on September 13, 2010.[25]

Judiciary Committee vote

On September 23, 2010, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-7 to send Butler's nomination to the U.S. Senate for a vote.[26]

Butler's nomination was returned to the President at the end of the 111th Congress. President Obama resubmitted the nomination on January 5, 2011. Butler's nomination was returned to the president on December 17, 2011.[27]

Legal education and experience

Sound bite
Hear audio of Butler before the Supreme Court in Ellis T. McCoy, Etc., v. Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District 1.

Butler earned his bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University in Appleton in 1973 and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1977.

After serving as an assistant state public defender from 1979 to 1992, Justice Butler was appointed to the Milwaukee Municipal Court. He served as a municipal judge until 2002, when he was elected to Branch 9 of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.[28]

Elections

2008

Justice Butler ran for re-election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2008. He was defeated by Burnett County Circuit Court Judge Michael Gableman.[29]

Candidate IncumbentElection %
Supreme-Court-Elections-badge.png
Michael Gableman ApprovedA No51.1%
Louis Butler Yes48.5%

[30]

2000

In 2000, while Justice Butler was a Milwaukee County Municipal Court judge, he challenged Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes. Sykes retained her seat, winning 65.5% of the vote.[31]

External links

References

  1. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Supreme Court race still too close to call, Prosser has narrow lead," April 6, 2011
  2. Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP, Louis B. Butler Biography
  3. United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Judicial Nomination Materials: 111th Congress
  4. "Louis Butler recommended to Replace Shabaz," May 20, 2009
  5. "Chicago Tribune" Ex-Wis. Supreme Court justice up for federal job, September 30, 2009
  6. White House Press Release "NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE: 9/30/09
  7. Senator Feingold Press Release "KOHL, FEINGOLD LAUD PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NOMINATION OF LOUIS BUTLER TO WESTERN DISTRICT JUDGESHIP," October 1, 2009
  8. Wisconsin State Journal "Butler nomination to federal court will likely change judicial style," October 1, 2009
  9. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel "Butler nomination for U.S. district judge draws heat," October 2, 2009
  10. Judicial Nomination Materials: 111th Congress
  11. The Cap Times, "Plain Talk: Butler deserves better than he’s getting in confirmation process," January 18, 2010
  12. Point of Law.com, "President renominates previously blocked judicial candidates," January 21, 2010
  13. State Bar of Wisconsin "Senate Judiciary Committee recommends Louis Butler as Western District judge," February 4, 2010
  14. Wisconsin State Journal, "Obama again nominates Butler for U.S. District Judge," September 13, 2010
  15. Sensenbrenner Press Release "Sensenbrenner Statement on Nomination of Louis Butler as U.S. District Judge," October 1, 2009
  16. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel "Butler nomination for U.S. district judge draws heat," October 2, 2009
  17. Feingold Press Release "KOHL, FEINGOLD LAUD PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NOMINATION OF LOUIS BUTLER TO WESTERN DISTRICT JUDGESHIP," October 1, 2009
  18. Capitol Times "Butler is the right choice," October 5, 2009
  19. Concerned Women for America Press Release "Senate Should Reject Nomination of Louis Butler to District Court in Wisconsin," December 14, 2009
  20. "Point of Law" Senate Judiciary OKs Louis Butler of Wisconsin for federal bench, December 4, 2009
  21. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Butler faces pointed queries at confirmation hearing," November 5, 2009
  22. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:All Politics Blog "Key Senate panel endorses Butler judicial nomination," December 3, 2009
  23. "Point of Law" Senate sends Justice, judicial nominees back to White House, December 27, 2009
  24. [United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Judicial Nomination Materials: 111th Congress
  25. Judicial Nomination Materials
  26. San Jose Mercury News, "Democrats: GOP now blocking picks for lower courts," September 23, 2010
  27. 112th Congress Nomination Materials
  28. Justice Butler's Bio
  29. Wisconsin State Elections Booard, Election Results Summary 4/21/2008
  30. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, 2008 Spring Election Results
  31. Wisconsin State Election Board, Elections Results Summary 4/4/2000


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