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Posts tagged with “Louis Butler”

Butler Nomination Returned to the White House

One of the boys at “Blogging Blue” is right upset about this, but often this stuff happens.  Not that it looks well for Louis Butler; he does after all have his position at the University of Wisconsin’s Law School.

No formal vote was taken, but the six nominees who were “returned to the White House” for reconsideration and possible renomination “ran into opposition,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader  Harry Reid (D-Nev.).


The nominees rejected by the Senate were:

Dawn E. Johnsen: Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel

Mary L. Smith: Assistant Attorney General for Tax Division

Christopher H. Schroeder: Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy

Craig Becker: National Labor Relations Board board member

Edward Chen and Louis Butler, U.S. District Court nominees for California and Wisconsin, respectively, were also returned to the White House.

I personal love how the “Blogging Blue” guy is complaining about how Butler is being treated given the 12-7 partisan vote which cleared him in the Judiciary Committee.  Hate to say this, but just because someone clears a hurdle in the Senate — at any level — doesn’t mean jack.  Holds can happen for any reason (Just ask former Congressman Mark Green before he began his Ambassadorship,) and if that wasn’t going to happen on Loophole Louie, it’s likely Butler may have actually gone down in a full confirmation vote.

After all, if Louis Butler was rejected TWICE by the voters of Wisconsin, who’s the say the entire Senate wouldn’t have had due cause to reject him as well?

Now, it’s up to the Obama White House to decide what to do with the Louis Butler.  There are other fine, capable judges in Wisconsin, maybe they will be selected for the judgeship, or maybe Obama will renominated Butler.  Time will tell, until then we have another judge selection farce to watch in Wisconsin.

I hope to have more on that in coming days…

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WSJ – Butler Gets Ultimate Consolation Prize

After the Washington Times wrote about the nomination of former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler to the federal court, you’d think that’d be it for national newspaper pointing out that he’s been twice denied the job by the voters of Wisconsin.  But no, today the Wall Street Journal points out that “Loophole Louie” has only been able to be a judge because he has powerful friends in Jim Doyle (and now President Barack Obama).

As consolation prizes go, Louis Butler can’t complain. After being twice rejected by Wisconsin voters for a place on the state Supreme Court, the former judge has instead been nominated by President Obama to a lifetime seat on the federal district court. If he is confirmed, Wisconsin voters will have years to contend with the decisions of a judge they made clear they would rather live without.

Judge Butler served on the state Supreme Court for four years, enough time to have his judicial temperament grow in infamy. Having first run unsuccessfully in 2000, he was appointed by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to the seat vacated by Justice Diane Sykes in 2004. But after serving four years, voters had seen enough of his brand of judicial philosophy, making him the first sitting justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in four decades to lose a retention election last year.

In Ferdon v. Wisconsin Partners, he drew the rage of doctors and others when he dismantled the state’s limit on noneconomic damages in medical malpractices cases—the kind of tort reform that had been serving the state well. Business groups were likewise floored by his decision in Thomas v. Mallet, which allowed “collective liability” in lead paint cases—making any company a potential target, regardless of whether they made the paint in question. His nickname as a public defender was “Loophole Louis,” a name that stuck when, as a judge, he was considered to be soft on crime.

At his confirmation hearing this month, Mr. Butler was quick to make light of his double rejection by Wisconsin voters, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that “After 16 years on the bench, I may be a better judge than a politician.”

Ahem. That’s a coded nod to liberal groups like the George Soros-funded Justice at Stake that are trying to eliminate judicial elections. Rather than letting voters choose judges, they prefer so-called “merit selection” plans whereby judges are selected by committees of lawyers.

State court judges like Mr. Butler are likely to be an important source of nominees for President Obama. Because Democrats have been out of office since the Clinton Administration, many of the liberal judges on the federal district courts are older, an incentive for the White House to comb state courts for new judges—especially for the federal appeals courts.

Mr. Butler’s nomination also shows the return to prominence of judicial ratings by the American Bar Association, which traditionally gives extra weight to “judicial experience.” The ABA, which was ousted by the Bush Administration in part because of the ABA’s notorious liberal bias, is now back in favor in the Obama White House. Mr. Butler served on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, a group that like Justice at Stake critiques how that independence is supposedly compromised by the need to raise money for judicial elections.

Mr. Butler’s nomination shows the dominance of liberal ideology in Mr. Obama’s judicial selections, and especially a contempt for Wisconsin voters.

Remember the days when people who lost elections were mocked because they were appointed by the President of the United States?  Oh yes, that’s only what the Wisconsin left did to Mark Green…remind me to return the favor after “Louie” gets through.

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The Washington Times: Don’t Confirm Butler

Hey, I mean, it’s not like the state’s voters already rejected the man twice…oh, wait.

It’s a well-researched editorial, unfortunately, given the make-up of the U.S. Senate, it won’t mean much with the Judiciary Committee.

If, in the future, a historian seeks the first proof positive that President Obama was intent on seeding the lower federal courts with radicals, the answer may well be that Butler did it.

On Oct. 1, the president nominated Louis Butler, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, to the U.S. District Court of his state’s Western District. While Mr. Butler’s resume is in order, his appreciation of a judge’s proper role seems lacking.

Mr. Butler is such a judicial activist that Wisconsin voters rejected his state high court candidacy both times they had a chance to weigh in. In 2000, as a Milwaukee trial court judge, he lost his race for the Supreme Court by a whopping 2-1 margin. Liberal Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle appointed him to the court anyway four years later to fill a vacancy, but Mr. Butler didn’t last long. Eighteen months ago, the first time Mr. Butler appeared on the ballot again, voters summarily dumped him after a high-profile race in which he was criticized for being far too liberal even for his state, which hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. It was the first time in more than four decades that an incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court justice had been defeated for re-election.

Wisconsin voters knew what they were doing.

Mr. Butler wrote the opinion in Thomas v. Mallet, which made lead-paint manufacturers liable for supposed harm to a plaintiff even though the plaintiff could not show that particular manufacturers had produced the paint that purportedly made him sick in houses built as early as 1900. In dissent, Justice Jon P. Wilcox wrote: “The end result … is that the defendants, lead paint manufacturers, can be held liable for a product they may or may not have produced, which may or may not have caused the plaintiffs’ injuries, based on conduct that may have occurred 100 years ago when some of the defendants were not even part of the relevant market.”

Mr. Butler repeatedly favored jackpot justice, including his vote in Ferdon v. Wisconsin Patients to overturn a carefully crafted law that capped “non-economic damage” awards on the flimsy basis that the judges thought the law was not “rationally related” to any legitimate ends.

In favor of jackpots of another kind, Mr. Butler helped gut a state constitutional amendment, approved by direct popular vote, that banned casino-type gambling. Not only did the court in Dairyland Greyhound Park v. Doyle allow a pre-existing gambling interest to keep operating, but it also ruled that the group had a right to expand the number of casino-type games it could offer – though the original contract specifically limited the sorts of games allowed. The public will and the original contract terms were thus ignored. So much for popular sovereignty.

So often did Mr. Butler find reasons to favor criminal defendants over law enforcement that he earned, and publicly welcomed, the nickname “Loophole Louie.” Finally, in State v. Fisher, the Butler court majority somehow interpreted a voter-approved constitutional amendment clearly written to expand gun-carrying rights as instead limiting gun-carrying rights.

The Senate should not confirm Mr. Butler for a federal judgeship before detailed research into all these troubling rulings.

Both Feingold and Kohl have given Butler the thumbs-up, you could have a litany of Wisconsin Constitutional scholars up there testifying what a disaster Butler was as State Supreme Court Justice, he’s going to go through.  Political connections beat out the will of the people of Wisconsin on this selection to the federal bench.

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