Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson (R)

MADISON -- Seventy-four-year-old Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson will run for a fourth consecutive 10-year term in 2009. The Chief Justice's announcement this week sets up yet another campaign of high-stakes negative advertising that the state's Supreme Court is becoming known for. Abrahamson is unpopular with state conservatives and has faced down several challengers in past elections. The high court's latest electee, conservative Judge Michael Gableman, knocked off liberal incumbent Louis B. Butler several weeks ago after a no-holds barred contest. One year ago conservative Justice Annette Ziegler beat a liberal opponent in a campaign that spent a record $6 million. The Ziegler and Gableman races both renewed calls in Wisconsin for more public financing of Supreme Court election campaigns. A recent proposal died in the state Assembly after winning Senate approval but is expected to be revived. Justice Abrahamson was first appointed to the Supreme Court in 1976 by Gov. Patrick Lucey after 14 years in private practice in Madison. She won her first elected term to the Supreme Court in 1979 and became its Chief Justice in 1996. Abrahamson recently drew the ire of state Republicans, who accused the Supreme Court under her direction of abusing its authority by promoting its own re-districting plan, LNL reported. GOP lawmakers called for Abrahamsom and the SC to back off re-districting and allow for other inputs.

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