Madison judge throws out lawsuit filed by state capitol protestorsWisconsin News
-- A judge in Madison has thrown out a lawsuit filed by protestors who were ticketed when they refused orders to move their picketing to the ground floor of the State Capitol Rotunda.
MADISON - A judge in Madison has thrown out a lawsuit filed by protestors who were ticketed when they refused orders to move their picketing to the ground floor of the State Capitol Rotunda.
Prosecutors dismissed the tickets – but the protestors still filed suit, claiming their free speech rights were hampered in violation of the Constitution. But Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington said the citations did not list the specific rule that was violated – so the group could not legally challenge those rules.
The order to move the protests came in March of last year, during the height of the Capitol protests over the new state law which virtually ended collective bargaining by most public employee unions. Remington said the protestors’ free speech rights were not restricted, because the order did not ban the plaintiffs from picketing inside the Capitol building.
Three more protestors were cited yesterday for displaying signs at the State Capitol without having the required permits. That brings to 11 the number of protestors arrested this week, as the new Capitol Police chief started enforcing the administration’s policy to require permits for statehouse activities involving four-or-more people. One of those arrested yesterday was also cited for resisting an officer. But the Madison Capital Times said police backed off after making arrests in the morning.
Today could be the biggest test yet for the new enforcement crackdown. The Solidarity Singers plan to march into the Capitol for their daily noon-time protest sing-along. That’s after they sang outside the last two days, to let a Red Cross blood drive operate in the Rotunda. Up to now, the singers have refused to get a permit. The Capital Times said the group agreed yesterday to start performing outside, and then go inside so singers can have the option of whether they want to resist arrest. A 36-year-old man said he was arrested yesterday for carrying a sign which spelled out the right to assemble under the state Constitution. He said he received 10 tickets in the past, and they were all dismissed – and he plans to challenge the two new ones, as well. Dane County’s chief prosecutor says he doesn’t have time to prosecute non-criminal citations against the Capitol protestors. So the state Justice Department recently took over that task.