Our newest state Supreme Court Justice, Michael Gableman, ran an ad in his campaign accusing sitting Justice Louis Butler of causing the release of a convicted rapist, who went on to molest another child. This was back when Butler was a Public Defender. The ad called Justice Butler “Loophole Louie”.
The ad was a lie. A complete, total fabrication. A few “true” statements stitched together in a way that created a lie. Whether or not the ad was a lie is not even an issue. Even the three-judge panel tasked with coming up with a recommendation on how to deal with Justice Gableman admits the ad was a lie.
It’s just that they apparently don’t care.
The three judges late last week issued a report recommending that the Supreme Court dismiss the ethics complaint against Justice Gableman. Even though the three judges admit that Gableman’s “Loophole Louie” ad stacked a series of statements together in a completely false and deliberately misleading way, they say it’s OK.
If you or me or any other regular person pulled that kind of crap during a police investigation, we’d be charged with obstructing justice. Pull that kind of crap in a courtroom, giving testimony, and you’ll be charged with perjury.
The state’s largest-circulation newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, titled its editorial lambasting the three-judge panel “A lie is a lie is a lie”. The paper’s editorial board came to the same conclusion that any reasonable person would, namely, that Louis Butler played absolutely no role in the rapist’s release.
Gableman’s ad was a lie.
The saving grace here, is that the highest court doesn’t have to follow the three-judge panel’s recommendation. It can simply ignore the recommendation; it can censure Justice Gableman for lying in his campaign; it can dole out a suspension without pay; it can even have Gableman removed from the state Supreme Court.
But - and it’s a big but - Justice Gableman has no choice but to recuse himself from the decision. He can’t vote on his own fate. And given the way the best state Supreme Court money can buy has been functioning lately, it could very easily be a 3-3 deadlock. If that happens, Gableman is off the hook.
On a loophole, so to speak.
Most kids, except the ones who are sociopaths or pathological liars, learn early in their development the concept of “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Their parents or peers teach them that deliberately misleading somebody, about something important, is wrong.
Michael Gableman besmirched the reputation of a good man in his quest to gain access to that fancy chair in the Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol. The voters put him there, but they were lied to.
Somebody should do something about that.