Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Gableman, Butler discuss philosophies, experience in race

In their final meeting before Tuesday’s election, candidates
for the Wisconsin Supreme Court traded blows Friday over ads widely considered
the nastiest in the state’s history, which have drawn national attention to the

Burnett County Circuit Court Judge Michael Gableman is
challenging incumbent Justice Louis Butler in the race for a 10-year spot on
the state’s highest court.

While Butler at one point called Gableman’s widely
criticized attack ad “disgusting,” Gableman said Butler had said
opponents’ backgrounds are fair game in judicial races, and that his own ad
served its purpose in highlighting differences in the candidates’ backgrounds.


“I come from a longstanding prosecuting background in a
former career; I am a judicial conservative,” Gableman said. “My
opponent has been legislating from the bench and has been expanding the rights
of criminals and criminal defendants and tying the hands of law

The candidates repeatedly clashed over judicial philosophy
during the one-hour debate broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Television from
the University of Wisconsin’s Vilas Hall.

Gableman called himself the judicial conservative in the
race, a “law-and-order” kind of judge.

“The fact is, you have been a judicial activist,”
Gableman said. “You’ve been consistently expanding the rights of criminals
based on a personal or social view.”

After one of the many instances in the debate when Gableman
called Butler a judicial activist, Butler responded, saying, “That’s not
my philosophy and you know it, and those are ridiculous charges.”

During the debate, the candidates also countered recent
suggestions of scrapping the judicial election system altogether in favor of
appointing new justices.

Butler said he has not advocated moving to the appointment

“There is something to be said about voters choosing
who will make the difficult decisions about their futures,” Butler said
after the debate. “But I think everyone has to acknowledge, based on the
last two campaigns, that our system is currently broken.”

Gableman, when asked during the debate, said he has been
proud to take his message around the state and that his message is
“resonating with voters.”

Should he win, Gableman would be the first challenger to
defeat an incumbent in the Supreme Court race since 1967. Butler would be the
first black person elected to the high court in Wisconsin history, as Gov. Jim
Doyle appointed him to fill a vacancy when he first took the bench.

The outcome of this state Supreme Court race could shift the
balance of philosophies on the court to a 4-3 conservative persuasion from the
current 4-3 majority leaning liberal.

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