Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Gableman Stepping Down

Michael Gableman

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman will not seek a second term next year. Two individuals have announced their candidacy for the seat.

A person with direct knowledge of his decision, but who was not authorized to speak publicly about it told The Associated Press of Gableman’s decision Thursday. Gableman released a statement late Thursday morning:

Today, I announce it is my intention not to seek reelection to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

I make this announcement with a heart filled with gratitude to the people of the great state of Wisconsin for permitting me to serve them in public office for the past twenty-three years, including the past eighteen years in elective office.  

Ten years ago, I began my campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court by setting out a vision based on the rule of law—that judges ought to apply the law rather than make it. The people of Wisconsin agreed with this vision, and I defeated an incumbent justice for the first time in forty-one years and won sixty out of our state’s seventy-two counties. Serving on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the last nine years has been my great privilege. In decisions large and small, I have fulfilled my promises and put my judicial philosophy into practice. I trust the people of Wisconsin will elect a successor who is similarly committed to the rule of law. 

In addition to my regular duties on the Court, I have been especially gratified by the opportunities conferred upon me by way of my assignments as the Court’s Liaison to the Tribal Courts, the Access to Justice Commission, and the Business Courts. Beyond my opinions, I have worked hard to improve the administration of justice throughout Wisconsin. 

Though many thanksgivings are due, I want to offer special thanks to my colleagues on the court, past and present. It has been a privilege to engage with such capable people in the collaborative search for justice through law as the sacred mission it is. Through robust discussion, debate, and sometimes disagreement, my colleagues have been hard working, intelligent, and dedicated to the application of the law as they saw it.

Finally, my heart will always have a special place for the people of Burnett County, who in 2002 entrusted me with the office of Burnett County Circuit Court Judge by giving me 78 percent of the vote.  With their help, I led the implementation of innovations such as the county’s first Drug and Alcohol Court, the first Restorative Justice Program, and both the inmate and juvenile justice community service programs. Together, we helped save and improve the lives of many of our fellow citizens.  

As I reflect on this chapter of my life coming to a close, I am more hopeful than ever in the triumph of the rule of law in Wisconsin. And I know I will be forever blessed to have been granted the opportunity to serve the great people of this state. 

Gableman was up for re-election in April. it’s not known if he will resign or finish his term, which runs until August 2018.

He is part of a five-justice conservative majority and was lead author on the opinion that upheld Walker’s law effectively ending collective bargaining for public workers known as Act 10.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet and Madison attorney Tim Burns are running for the court. They are pitching themselves as more moderate or liberal alternatives to Gableman.

Burns reacted to the news on Twitter saying, “For too long, the conservative majority” of the Supreme Court has been “looking out for the special interests.”

Dallet has stated she is running for the court because it is “out of balance” and voters will see the need for “experience and impartiality.”

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