Senate Should Reject Nomination of Louis Butler to District Court in Wisconsin
RE: Louis Butler’s nomination to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin. On December 3 the Judiciary Committee voted out this controversial nomination on a party-line vote of 12-7, and floor action is expected in the near future. Louis Butler is unfit for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench because his record demonstrates a far-left agenda of personal beliefs and political ideology that he imposes from the bench, and the people of Wisconsin have twice rejected him as undeserving to serve on their highest court.
ACTION: The nomination of Louis Butler is one of those rare instances constituting “extraordinary circumstances” where the U.S. Senate should reject this nominee as unqualified for a lifetime appointment. “Extraordinary circumstances” is the standard agreed to by the bipartisan Gang of 14 U.S. Senators in 2005 for opposing judicial nominations.
ISSUE: When Louis Butler first ran for the Wisconsin Supreme Court—the voters rejected him by a 2-1 margin—and he lost every single county in Wisconsin. When he was appointed to that court by Democrat Governor Jim Doyle and then stood for retention by the voters in 2008, they again rejected him. This was the first time a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was rejected by the voters in more than 40 years.
Louis Butler ignores settled precedent. Justice Butler repeatedly ignores precedent, such as in the 2005 case State v. Dubose regarding evidence being admitted in court, in which Butler believed—as the deciding vote—that courts could make use of new policy studies and social science publications to change public policy, instead of leaving that decision to elected lawmakers.
Louis Butler opposes rights of gun owners. The right to bear arms in the Wisconsin Constitution expressly notes that this right is for personal security and “any other lawful purpose.” In State v. Fischer, Justice Butler was the deciding vote in 2006 to hold that a Wisconsin statute barring carrying a concealed weapon for any purpose, at any time, including in a vehicle, does not violate this right to personal security that the voters of Wisconsin chose to expressly protect in their state constitution. After the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Heller case upholding Second Amendment gun rights in 2008, Louis Butler spoke at an Obama for President fundraiser and specifically mentioned “gun control” as an issue that potential Obama appointees would impact.
Louis Butler destroyed Wisconsin’s law to protect doctors from junk lawsuits that cause higher healthcare costs. Wisconsin has a law to limit punitive damages in medical malpractice suits to help doctors and patients in the healthcare system. In Ferdon v. Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund (2005), Justice Butler was the deciding vote in the 4-3 decision to strike down these limits, substituting his personal policy preferences for those of the Wisconsin legislature, because such limits are not “rational.”
Louis Butler allowed lawsuits against businesses that were not at fault for injuries. In a case involving lead paint, it was unclear which company made the paint in question. In Thomas v. Mallet, a 2005 case, Justice Butler wrote the opinion and was the deciding vote to allow the plaintiffs to receive money from every company in the industry, declaring that they bore “collective liability” for any injuries suffered, and thus must all pay the damages. The former dean of the University of Wisconsin law school called this decision “radical.”
Louis Butler has rejected the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of criminals. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court on a constitutional issue. Wisconsin precedent dictates that in future cases the Wisconsin court should interpret such language in lockstep with the U.S. Supreme Court. When a later case was argued in 2005, State v. Knapp, presented identical constitutional language, Justice Butler was the deciding vote in the 4-3 decision to abandon the longstanding Wisconsin precedent to adhere to the U.S. Supreme Court, so that evidence essential to a murder trial would be excluded from court.
Louis Butler was twice rejected by the people of Wisconsin. Louis Butler ran for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2000, but was rejected by the voters receiving only 34% of the vote and failing to carry a single one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. In 2004, Governor Jim Doyle appointed Butler to fill a vacancy on that court. When he had to stand for a retention election in 2008 to be kept in office by the voters, they again rejected him. This was the first time in more than 40 years that a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was ousted by the voters.
Louis Butler engaged in partisan campaigning for Barack Obama soon after the voters of Wisconsin removed him from the Supreme Court. On September 25, 2008, shortly after stepping down as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Butler engaged in overtly partisan campaigning by speaking at a fundraiser for Barack Obama, saying that the country needed Obama in the White House because of the opportunity to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and “other federal judges.” He specifically mentioned Roe v. Wade, gun control and affirmative action as issues affected by federal judicial appointments.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON LOUIS BUTLER PLEASE VISIT THESE WEBSITES:
EdwinMeese, former Attorney General
Mathew D. Staver, Founder & Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Curt Levey, Executive Director, Committee for Justice
Kay Daly, President, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
Marion Edwyn Harrison, Free Congress Foundation Counsel
Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America
Larry Pratt, Executive Director, Gun Owners of America
J. Kenneth Blackwell, Visiting Professor, Liberty School of Law
David McIntosh, former Member of Congress, Indiana
Craig Shirley, Chairman, Citizens for the Republic
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
T. Kenneth Cribb, former Counselor to the U.S. Attorney General
Susan Carleson, Chairman & CEO, American Civil Rights Union
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Alfred Regnery, Publisher, American Spectator
Jim Martin, President, 60 Plus Association
Tom Winter, Editor in Chief, Human Events
Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
(All organizations are listed for identification purposes only)
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