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State Supreme Court justice removed by voters gets lifetime appointment as federal judge

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The first person in 41 years to be removed from the Wisconsin Supreme Court by the voters could soon be elevated to a federal judgeship.


President Obama nominated Louis Butler Wednesday to replace Judge John Shabaz of Madison, who retired earlier this year.

Butler was chosen over Madison attorney William Conley. If the U.S. Senate confirms Butler, he'll get a lifetime appointment to decide federal cases in the western half of Wisconsin.

Butler has been a public defender, a Milwaukee municipal judge, and a Milwaukee County circuit judge.

In 2004, Gov. Jim Doyle appointed Butler to fill a vacant seat on the State Supreme Court and he became the state's first African-American justice.

Last year, Butler was defeated in his first Supreme Court election bid by Burnett County Circuit Judge Michael Gableman.

Butler stayed in Madison, and became a resident lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Law School. He was also a finalist for a vacant federal judgeship in Milwaukee.

U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold congratulated Butler on being nominated and they promised to help move his confirmation bid forward in the Senate.