William Conley

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William Conley
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
Title:   Chief Judge
Position:   Seat #2
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Active:   3/25/2010 - Present
Chief:   2010 - Present
Preceded by:   Barbara Crabb
Personal History
Born:   1956
Hometown:   Rice Lake, WI
Undergraduate:   University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1978
Law School:   University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D., 1982

William Martin Conley is an Article III judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. He was nominated in 2009 by President Obama, and joined the court in 2010.

Early life and eduction

Conley earned his bachelor's degree and his Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978 and 1982.[1][2]

Professional career

Judicial career

Western District of Wisconsin

Conley was nominated to fill the seat vacated by Barbara Crabb on the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin by President Obama on October 29, 2009.[1] Conley was one of twenty-one applicants for the position.[3] The Senate unanimously confirmed him on March 4, 2010.[4][5]

He received a unanimous rating of Well Qualified from the American Bar Association.

Conley was recommend to the President by United States Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, who said that "his impressive legal credentials [made] him well qualified to fill this seat."[6]

Judiciary Committee hearing

Conley was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 18, 2009. He stated that he was ready to serve the public after many years in the private sector, calling his nomination "an exceptional opportunity."[7] The Committee voted unanimously to forward his nomination to the full Senate, which approved his nomination on March 4, 2010.[8][9]

Conley's Public Questionnaire available here
Questions for the Record available here

Awards and associations

  • Member of the Litigation Section, Antitrust Section and the Franchising Forum Committee of the American Bar Association
  • Member of the Wisconsin Bar Association
  • Member of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association
  • Master of the James E. Doyle Chapter of the American Inns of Court
  • Included in the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Wisconsin Super Lawyers lists
  • Included in the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 editions of The Best Lawyers in America[10]

Notable cases

Judge temporarily suspends part of anti-abortion law (2013)

     United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. J.B. Van Hollen, et al., 13-cv-465wmc)

In July 2013, Judge Conley granted a temporary restraining order for one part of a new Wisconsin law which added qualifications for doctors who perform abortions. The law, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker, required that doctors performing the procedures have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of their practice. Judge Conley requested another hearing on that matter, and suspended that portion for ten days. The law still mandated that women hoping to terminate their pregnancies be forced to have an ultrasound, though they could choose not to if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.[11][12]

Broadcasting rights for Wisconsin Interscholastic sports (2011)

     United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and American-Hifi Inc., v. Gannett Co., Inc. and Wisconsin Newspaper Associaion, Inc.,, 09-cv-155-wmc)

Judge Conley ruled on June 3, 2010, that the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) could require newspapers and other media outlets to pay broadcasting rights fees to present high school sporting events. The lawsuit came after the WIAA demanded that Gannett-Wisconsin newspapers not have streaming broadcasts of state football playoff games on the internet in 2008. Judge Conley ruled that high school sporting events were not public forums and struck down arguments from Gannett that the WIAA violated the First Amendment on the basis of free press. Attorneys for Gannett appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Conley's ruling was affirmed.[13][14]

Public funding and judicial elections in Wisconsin (2011)

     United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee, et al., v. Michael Brennan, et al., 3:09-cv-00764-wmc)

In March 2011, Judge Conley ruled in favor of the defendants, various governmental agencies, to uphold the legality of the Wisconsin law for public funding of Supreme Court elections. In a ruling that combined two cases, he found that the state had a compelling interest to avoid the impropriety of privately funded elections.[15]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 White House Office of the Press Secretary, "President Obama Nominates William Conley and Brian Jackson to Serve on the District Court Bench," October 29, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Federal Judicial Center, "Biography of William Martin Conley"
  3. Leader-Telegram, "Obama nominates Rice Lake grad for judge post," October 31, 2009
  4. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, "Judicial Nomination Materials," accessed May 30, 2014
  5. State Bar of Wisconsin, "U.S. Senate unanimously confirms William Conley's nomination as federal judge," March 5, 2010
  6. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, "Press Release: Kohl, Feingold Laud President Obama's Nomination of William Conley to Western District Judgeship," October 29, 2009
  7. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Senate committee grills judge nominee," November 18, 2009
  8. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Committee votes to move forward with judicial nomination in Wisconsin," December 10, 2009
  9. State Bar of Wisconsin, "Senate Judiciary Committee recommends approval of Conley nomination," December 15, 2009
  10. Foley & Lardner, "Biography of William M. Conley," accessed May 30, 2014
  11. Reuters, "Federal judge temporarily blocks part of Wisconsin's new abortion law," July 8, 2013
  12. CNN, "Federal judge temporarily blocks new Wisconsin abortion law," July 9, 2013
  13. Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge rules in favor of WIAA in webcasting of sports events," June 4, 2010
  14. Leagle, "Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association v. Gannett Co., Inc.," August 24, 2011
  15. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Federal judge dismisses free speech challenges to campaign funding," March 31, 2011
Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Barbara Crabb
Western District of Wisconsin
Seat #2
Succeeded by:

WisconsinWisconsin Supreme CourtWisconsin Court of AppealsWisconsin Circuit CourtsWisconsin Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of WisconsinUnited States District Court for the Western District of WisconsinUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of WisconsinUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of WisconsinUnited States Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitWisconsin countiesWisconsin judicial newsWisconsin judicial electionsJudicial selection in WisconsinWisconsinTemplate.jpg