Louis B. Butler
|Louis Bennett Butler, Jr.|
|Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court|
August 2004 – July 31, 2008
|Appointed by||Jim Doyle|
|Succeeded by||Michael Gableman|
February 15, 1952 |
|Alma mater||Lawrence University (B.A.)
University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D.)
Louis Bennett Butler, Jr. (born 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.
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. Butler also served as an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School.
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. Business groups, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), paid for an unprecedented number[clarification needed] of issue ads in this campaign cycle, although the Butler campaign outspent Gableman's by several hundred thousand dollars.
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.
On September 30, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Butler to serve as United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. However, his nomination was returned to the President on December 24, 2009. 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, stating that "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". His nomination was returned to the President on December 17, 2011, pursuant to the rules of the Senate.
- Fund, John (2008-04-05). "Wisconsin's Judicial Revolution". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- Basting, Thomas J. (May 2008). "President's Message: Gutter Politics and the Wisconsin Supreme Court". Wisconsin Lawyer (Madison, Wisconsin: wisbar.org) 81 (5). Retrieved 2008-06-19.
- Chaptman, Dennis (2008-09-24). "Former state Supreme Court justice to teach at UW Law School". University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- Carrie Johnson, Obama Gets High Marks For Diversifying The Bench, NPR (August 4, 2011).
- Senate Record for December 17, 2011