Justice Shirley Abrahamson Won’t Seek Re-Election in 2019

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson, the first woman to serve on the state’s highest court, said Wednesday she will not seek re-election next year.

“It is a difficult decision,” Abrahamson said. “But in that regard, it is like many of the decisions in cases I have helped decide over four decades on the court — most often, good arguments on both sides, difficult choices, important questions.”

Abrahamson, 84, who was appointed to the court in 1976 by Gov. Patrick Lucey, won four 10-year terms between 1979 and 2009, each time by double-digit margins. She served as chief justice from 1996 until 2015, when a system for selecting chief justices based on seniority was replaced with a majority vote of the court.

Abrahamson said her intention is to serve out the remainder of her term, which ends July 31, 2019. At that point she will have served for 43 years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, longer than any of the 77 justices who have held the position.

“Until then, and as I have done for my entire judicial career, I will continue to express my point of view,” she said. “I will do so on the bench. And, if principles and values integral to the great state of Wisconsin and its courts continue to be challenged, I will also express my views off the bench, if necessary and as appropriate.”