Supreme Court candidate Michael Gableman has traveled around the state complaining about specific cases in which incumbent Justice Louis Butler rendered a decision. Although Gableman repeatedly fails to offer a legal argument that Butler applied the law incorrectly, he and his allies continue to use these selected cases as a basis for removing Butler from the high court. While he continues to list the decisions in these cases as being problematic, he does not mention that they were decisions by a majority, including a Justice that he publicly supported even after some of the cases in question.
Judge Michael Gableman was listed as a supporter of Justice Patrick Crooks on a document dated September 13, 2005. This support was also reported by Wispolitics on September 16, 2005. Justice Crooks garnered the public support of Michael Gableman even though only months prior he joined Butler and a court majority in several of the cases that Gableman now decries.
Most notably, Crooks concurred with Butler on the Thomas v Mallet case, which is the lead paint decision that upset the corporate lobby so much. Butler, Crooks and a majority of the court decided that case on July 15, 2005, three full months before Gableman was listed as a Crooks supporter. While many conservatives were attacking Crooks for the decision, Gableman was giving public support.
Both Butler and Crooks also concurred with a majority decision in a major medical malpractice case (Ferdon v Patients Compensation Fund) on July 14, 2005. In both cases, Crooks and Butler took the same position. Although Gableman says that Butler was ‘the deciding vote’ on these cases, the same could be said of Crooks who Gableman publicly supported.
After taking a look at the other 23 cases often cited by Gableman and his allies they reveal that Crooks and Butler ruled the same way in 17 of them (view the entire list of cases). Further, the Wisconsin Law Journal reported that in the last session Crooks and Butler agreed 81 percent of the time.
Exactly how is it that Crooks decisions garnered the public support of Michael Gableman, but Butler’s near identical set of decisions are suddenly reason for removal? What has changed besides the fact that Gableman wants Butler’s job? What does this kind of convenient inconsistency say about Gableman? Is he really the judicial conservative that he now claims to be or is he simply a judicial opportunist seeking a better job? They are all questions that should be asked in the coming days and Gableman should be forced to step away from his script long enough to completely answer them.