Judiciary

Wisconsin Justice Dubbed ‘Loophole Louis’ in TV Ads


When Wisconsin voters decide whether to retain Justice Louis Butler on the state’s top court in the April 1 election, they may be swayed by a critical TV ad. It dubs the justice “Loophole Louis” for rulings favoring defendants in criminal cases.

Not to be outdone, Butler supporters are running an ad that accuses Butler’s challenger, Burnett County Judge Michael Gableman, of presiding in a district that is among the state’s slowest in dealing with criminal cases.

A Wall Street Journal editorial deems the anti-Gableman ad to be unfair. It neglects to mention that Gableman’s district is slow because he’s the only judge in the district, the newspaper says. “But you have to smile at the spectacle of liberal groups trying to save a liberal judge by calling his opponent soft on crime.”

The column says Butler lost the election when he ran for a seat on the court in 2000, but the governor appointed him to the bench when his 2000 opponent was elevated to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appointment gave the court a 5-4 liberal majority, which proceeded to dismantle tort reform laws and expand liability for paint manufacturers, the article says.

Trial lawyers are helping fund Butler’s campaign, while business interests are backing Gableman. “Justice Butler picked this election fight when he and four colleagues decided, by judicial fiat, to make Wisconsin a national mecca for the trial bar,” the column says.

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