Aad J. Vinje (1857-1929)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
Chief Justice (1922-1929)
"There was nothing spectacular about Chief Justice Vinje so far as external appearances went, but he filled the position of chief justice with great honor, and he commanded the deep respect and veneration of all who knew this court in his day." - John P. McGalloway, Wisconsin Supreme Court Centennial (1953)
Aad John Vinje was born in Voss, Norway, on November 10, 1857. He came to the United States with his parents when he was 12 years old. His family settled in Iowa, where he attended college and taught school for several years.
Vinje earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1887. While in school, he worked in the State Law Library. After graduating in 1887, Vinje served as assistant Supreme Court reporter until 1891, when he moved to Superior, Wisconsin, to practice law.
In 1895, Vinje was appointed judge for the 11th Judicial Circuit. He served in that capacity until 1910, when he was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He won election to 10-year terms on the Supreme Court in 1911 and 1921. Upon the death of Chief Justice Robert G. Siebecker in February 1922, Vinje became the chief justice, a position he occupied until his death on March 23, 1929.
At his memorial service, it was said that Vinje was a thoughtful, calm, impartial and fearless justice. He listened with such attentiveness to arguments that those appearing before him were encouraged to do their very best. His opinions, which appear in 54 volumes of the Wisconsin Reports, are short, concise, logical and convincing.
Off the bench, Vinje was known for his keen sense of humor and love of the outdoors. During his frequent wilderness excursions, he "completely laid aside the cloak of judicial dignity and joined in the merrymaking with the zest of a boy."
Vinje and his wife Alice Miller had four children: Arthur, David, Janet and Ethel.