Monday, August 12, 2013

Walker shreds the Wisconsin Constitutional right to Assemble and Petition. Should an out-of-control Administration decide what's reasonable, appropriate?

Point One: The Wisconsin State Journal did its best to discourage protesters at the Capitol by quoting scholars who insist our constitutional rights have reasonable limits. You know, like you can't scream "fire" in a theater. But screaming fire has nothing to do with petitioning "the government." That's where the argument falls apart.

Point Two-The larger issue: It's the Walker administrations decision to arrest citizen protesters in the Capitol. What changed? Only Walker and the Republican majority, that's all. This is a unique time where a governor has decided that opposition to his agenda should be met with tickets and arrests. Did Tony Earl resort to that? Lee Dreyfus? Did Tommy Thompson? Scott McCallum? James Doyle? Lucy, Knowles, Reynolds, Nelson...? This is distinctly Walker.

But maybe the courts got it all wrong when they defered to this argument:
"...court cases have established that governments can regulate the 'time, place and manner' of a demonstration?"
It's a convenient argument, but ignores the "never be abridged" part of the state constitution:
The right is contained in one complete sentence. It's not like that famous half sentence used to justify the right to carry a gun. It's one complete thought. 

But the State Journal wrote:
Over the last two weeks dozens of singing protesters have risked arrest … They brandish signs claiming the First Amendment as their permit … But constitutional scholars who study and defend the First Amendment say there’s ample legal precedent supporting the government’s ability to require a permit to demonstrate in a public place. University of Chicago Law School professor Geoffrey Stone said: “The court has held that this is a reasonable requirement so the government can make sure that it can appropriately manage the expression in terms of things like timing, disruption, police protection, avoiding multiple events at the same time, etc.,” Stone said in an email.
Such "reasonable requirements" that "appropriately manage" expression appears to do more to protect government officials

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