From a White House news release dated Jan. 20 announcing presidential nominations:
- Louis B. Butler, Jr., of Wisconsin, to be United Stated District Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin, vice John C. Shabaz, retired.
- Edward Milton Chen, of California, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, vice Martin J. Jenkins, resigned.
These two controversial judicial nominees were voted out by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Republicans prevented their nominations from being held over after the first session of Congress adjourned on Dec. 24.
Both must go through the committee process again, but new confirmation hearings are unlikely.
We've followed Butler because of his history as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice ruling against medical liability caps and his defense of "collective liability" for manufacturers of lead paint. (Previous post.) Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold vigorously back his nomination; both serve on Judiciary. (See Nov. 4 hearing.)
UPDATE (12:58 p.m.): Butler was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat. In 2008, he was defeated for election to a full, 10-year term by Michael Gableman, a Burnett County Circuit Court judge and former prosecutor. Gableman's victory, aided by business support, has made him a bete noire to the state's activist left. The latest development is lawyers seeking to force Gableman to recuse himself from criminal appeals. See Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Gableman isn't biased against criminal defendants, he says."