Louis B. Butler

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The Honorable
Louis B. Butler Jr.
Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
In office
August 1, 2004 – July 31, 2008
Appointed byJim Doyle
Preceded byDiane S. Sykes
Succeeded byMichael Gableman
Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge
for the Milwaukee District, Branch 9
In office
August 1, 2002 – August 2004
Preceded byRobert W. Crawford
Succeeded byPaul R. Van Grunsven
Personal details
Louis Bennett Butler Jr.

(1952-02-15) February 15, 1952 (age 69)
Chicago, Illinois
Alma materLawrence University (B.A.)
University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D.)

Louis Bennett Butler Jr., (born February 15, 1952) is a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Butler was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Jim Doyle in August 2004; his term expired on July 31, 2008. He is the first African American to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He was nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, but his nomination never received a vote in the Senate.


Louis Butler was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He earned his bachelor's degree from Lawrence University in 1973 and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1977.[citation needed]

After serving as an assistant state public defender from 1979 to 1992, Louis Butler was appointed to the Municipal Court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as a municipal judge until 2002, when he was elected to Branch 9 of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, defeating incumbent Judge Robert Crawford. Butler also served as an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School.[citation needed]

Butler campaigned for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2000, but lost his election bid to incumbent Diane Sykes by a wide margin. After being appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2004, he was defeated by the Judge Michael Gableman in the April 1, 2008 elections. Butler was the first sitting Wisconsin Supreme Court justice to be defeated in a reelection campaign since 1967. The Wall Street Journal argued this loss stemmed from opinions he wrote in medical malpractice, search and seizure, and product liability cases.[1] Business groups, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), paid for a large number[clarification needed] of issue ads in this campaign cycle, although the Butler campaign outspent Gableman's by several hundred thousand dollars.[2]

Since his defeat, Butler agreed to serve a two-year term as Justice-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he would teach several courses and clinics for the 2008–2010 academic years.[3]

On September 30, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Butler to serve as United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.[4] However, his nomination was returned to the President on December 24, 2009.[5] Obama renominated Butler on January 20, 2010, but the Senate returned the nomination to the President on August 5, 2010. Obama then renominated Butler on September 13, 2010. NPR commented on the Senate's reluctance to confirm Butler in an August 4, 2011 article:

"Some of the longest waiting nominees, Louis Butler of Wisconsin, Charles Bernard Day of Maryland and Edward Dumont of Washington happen to be black or openly gay."[6]

His nomination was returned to the President on December 17, 2011, pursuant to the rules of the Senate.[7]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Fund, John (April 5, 2008). "Wisconsin's Judicial Revolution". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
  2. ^ Basting, Thomas J. (May 2008). "President's Message: Gutter Politics and the Wisconsin Supreme Court". Wisconsin Lawyer. Madison, Wisconsin: wisbar.org. 81 (5). Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved June 19, 2008.
  3. ^ Chaptman, Dennis (September 24, 2008). "Former state Supreme Court justice to teach at UW Law School". University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  4. ^ "Presidential Nominations sent to the Senate, 9/30/09". whitehouse.gov. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30 – via National Archives.
  5. ^ "U.S. Senate: Nominations Failed or Returned to the President".
  6. ^ Carrie Johnson, Obama Gets High Marks For Diversifying The Bench, NPR (August 4, 2011).
  7. ^ "Senate Record for December 17, 2011". Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2011.