State Rep. Chris Taylor
Press Release

Victory for free speech in State Capitol

Unconstitutional Capitol access policies struck down

By - Jul 10th, 2013 03:11 pm

MADISON – On Monday, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU regarding the Walker administration’s crackdown on free speech in the State Capitol.  Federal Judge William Conley temporarily struck down the permitting requirement, stating that it was impermissibly content specific and that there was no basis for requiring as few as one person to have to obtain a permit for expressive activity in the state Capitol.

The judicial ruling cited the official nomination for the State Capitol’s designation as a National Historic Landmark, which was granted Jan. 3, 2001:  The application states about the rotunda:

“Whereas some statehouses are maintained apart from the urban fabric, the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda functions, both literally and symbolically, as a city center and is fully utilized as a public place to which all have claim.”

“This is a huge victory for free speech. As I have been saying for months and as Judge Conley recognized, the Capitol rotunda is a public forum, where political speech should be encouraged, not stifled,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison).  “Rather than working collaboratively with all interested parties in crafting a Capitol access policy that protects people’s right to free speech, the Walker administration imposed an unconstitutional policy and bullied individuals exercising their free speech rights with civil citations and monetary penalties.”

For the last year, Rep. Taylor has been urging the Walker administration to reconsider their unconstitutional approach adopted in their Capitol access policies.  Last fall, Capitol Police Chief David Erwin refused to answer Rep. Taylor’s most basic questions about the basis for arresting and citing individuals engaged in political expression and terminated their meeting.

“This ruling vindicates the right of each Wisconsinite to engage in expressive activity in the Capitol rotunda without having a permit” said Rep. Taylor.   “I am hoping the Walker administration will reconsider their approach and finally acknowledge the First Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens.”

Rep. Taylor is the only legislator to appear on a Walker administration “Black list” that listed individuals targeted by the administration for expressing opposition to their regressive policies and crackdown on free speech.

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