Barbara Madsen

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Barbara A. Madsen
Court Information:
Washington State Supreme Court
Title:   Chief justice
Salary:  $168,000
Selection:   Elected
Active:   1992-2016
Chief:   2010-2016
Past post:   Judge, Seattle Municipal Court, Washington
Past term:   1988-1992
Personal History
Undergraduate:   University of Washington, 1974
Law School:   Gonzaga University School of Law, 1977

Barbara A. Madsen is the chief justice on the Washington Supreme Court. She was first elected in 1992 and her current term expires in 2016.[1]

On January 11, 2010, Madsen was sworn in as chief justice of the court, replacing Gerry Alexander.[2][3][4] She was unanimously re-elected chief justice by her colleagues on the high court on October 31, 2012, and will serve a four-year term in that role.[5]


Madsen received her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in 1974 and her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1977.[1]


Upon graduation from law school, Justice Madsen worked as a public defender. In 1982, she became staff attorney of the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, and two years after, she was appointed special prosecutor in 1984. In 1988, Madsen was appointed to the Seattle Municipal Court, where she served until joining the Washington Supreme Court.[1]

Awards and associations


  • 2006: Access to Justice Award of Distinction for Public Service
  • 2004: Certificate of Appreciation for Contribution to Legal Education, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association
  • 2004: Equal Justice Coalition Judicial Award
  • 2003: Woman of the Year, Seattle University School of Law
  • 2002: Special Presidents Award, National Association of Women Judges
  • 1998 and 2002: Vanguard Award, Washington Women Lawyers
  • 2001: Foundation Award, Washington Women Lawyers
  • 1999: Certificate of Achievement, Department of the Army
  • 1998: "Very Important Woman," Thurston County Women’s Symposium
  • 1993: Myra Bradwell Award, Gonzaga University School of Law[1]


  • Chairman, Washington State Gender and Justice Commission
  • Member, American Judges Association
  • Member, National Association of Women Judges
  • Member, the American Judicature Society[1]



Madsen was re-elected after running unopposed.[6] She filed her candidate registration on March 2, 2010.

Main article: Washington judicial elections, 2010


In the 2004 election, Barbara Madsen raised $46,491.[7] For a complete summary, visit Follow the Money, "Barbara Madsen 2004"

Candidate IncumbentSeatPrimary %Election %
Barbara Madsen ApprovedA Position #560.9%100%
Terry Lukens Position #539.1%



Madsen was re-elected in 1998.[9]

Candidate IncumbentSeatPrimary %Election %
Barbara Madsen ApprovedA Position #546%68.1%
Jim Bates Position #531.6%31.9%
Linda Callahan McCaslin Position #522.2%


Candidate IncumbentSeatPrimary %Election %
Barbara Madsen ApprovedA Position #127.6%50.6%
Elaine Houghton Position #126.1%49.3%
Keith Callow Position #122.8%
Edward Heavey Position #115.3%
Philip Rodriguez Position #18%

Notable cases

Madsen votes to uphold ban on gay marriage

The Washington Supreme Court determined in a 5 to 4 decision to uphold the state's Defense of Marriage Act. Six different opinions were issued in the case, and some stated that the legislature could extend the right of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. The Washington Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the state’s 1998 Defense of Marriage Act became even more socially significant when Judge Madsen, publicly questioned the proof for homosexuality as an immutable trait. "Laws challenged on the basis of race or sex discrimination are generally subjected to more searching review," stated Justice Madsen.[10]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Madsen received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of -0.63, indicating a liberal ideological leaning. This is less liberal than the average CF score of -0.91 that justices received in Washington. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[11]

See also

External links


WashingtonWashington Supreme CourtWashington Court of AppealsWashington Superior CourtWashington District CourtsWashington Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of WashingtonUnited States District Court for the Western District of WashingtonUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of WashingtonUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of WashingtonUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitWashington countiesWashington judicial newsWashington judicial electionsJudicial selection in WashingtonWashingtonTemplate.jpg