Taylor statement on free speech settlement
The Wisconsin Department of Administration and the American Civil Liberties Union announced a settlement in the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state over illegal permitting policies that restrict free speech at the State Capitol.
MADISON – Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the American Civil Liberties Union announced a settlement in the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state over illegal permitting policies that restrict free speech at the State Capitol. Under the agreement, protestors wishing to use the Capitol rotunda or other public space must merely give notice on the intent to use the space. Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), a lead opponent of mandatory permitting policies and the citing and arrest practices of the Capitol police, released the following statement in response:
“This is a huge victory for the people of Wisconsin. For the past two years, advocates have defended their constitutional right to free speech and assembly in the Capitol rotunda, which has been recognized as a public forum. The notice system allows the Capitol Police the courtesy of being prepared for groups gathering at the Capitol while ensuring that groups cannot be turned away, unless they attempt to use a space reserved by another group.
“This settlement vindicates those of us who’ve argued the public has a right to use the Capitol on their own terms on their own time, without the threat of police interference. The constitution guarantees citizens the right to free speech without the threat of arrest, intimidation or harassment from their government.
“I thank everyone who peacefully, respectfully and joyfully fought for the free speech rights of all Wisconsinites. This settlement might not be everything we all wanted, but the tenacity of all who fought for their free speech rights ensured DOA would ultimately abandon their failed policy of arresting those who disagree with Governor Scott Walker. It shows that ultimately, the power of the people defeats attempts to suppress the public’s desire to speak and be heard. This is something to be celebrated!”