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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    August 01, 2003

    In the News: Bablitch retires from supreme court

    After 20 years as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, William A. Bablitch retires this month.

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 8, August 2003

    Bablitch retires from supreme court

    Susan V. KelleyAfter 20 years as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, William A. Bablitch retires this month.

    "I have had an extraordinarily fulfilling and satisfying career," said Bablitch. "My public service, encompassing all three branches of government, spans seven governors. I have enormous respect for all of my colleagues, who without exception are completely dedicated to the law and justice. Wisconsin can be proud of its supreme court, and I am proud to have been a member. I am grateful to the citizens of Wisconsin for allowing me to serve them, and deeply humbled and honored by their support."

    Bablitch was elected Portage County district attorney in 1968. In 1972, he was elected state senator, relying on a grassroots campaign comprising mostly student volunteers.

    Bablitch's proudest accomplishment in the Senate was passing revised sexual assault laws. He authored the bill and led the fight in the Legislature to modernize Wisconsin's antiquated rape law. The new law became a model for legislation nationwide. Bablitch also authored the first campaign reform law, which restricted campaign spending and established public financing of political campaigns. Other leadership accomplishments in the Legislature include creating the Citizens' Utility Board, expanding mandatory reporting of child abuse, and passing the marital property law.

    In 1983 Bablitch ran successfully for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. As a justice, Bablitch has authored many opinions supporting Wisconsin's environment, open government, consumer protection, and victim's rights. He authored a dissenting opinion in support of Wisconsin's hate crimes law, a position that the U.S. Supreme Court later adopted.

    In 1995 Bablitch originated and planned the Judicial Glass Ceiling conference, encouraging women to enter the judiciary, which drew 250 attendees and inspired many women to seek judicial careers.

    Bablitch intends to remain active in the public arena, do some writing, and explore teaching, mediation, consulting, and public policy.

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