Judge blocks portion of state Capitol access policy - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Judge blocks portion of state Capitol access policy

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A federal judge issued an injunction to allow small groups to gather in the state Capitol without a permit.

U.S. District Judge William Conley issued the temporary injunction late Monday, blocking a portion of the Capitol permit policy that requires groups of 20 people or less to have a permit or visitors can be cited or arrested. The decision still requires larger groups to follow the Capitol permit policy.

The ruling comes after UW-Madison assistant professor Michael Kissick filed a federal lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) and the Capitol Police Department. Kissick said his first amendment rights were violated when he faced arrest for attending a Solidarity Singalong in the rotunda.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin is representing Kissick. Attorney Steve Porter says they're pleased with the preliminary ruling partially in their favor.

"[Judge Conley] recognized the really unique and historic function of our Capitol as a place for public discourse," Porter says. "What we feel is more appropriate under the First Amendment would be a reservation system as opposed to a permit system, so that people could reserve the space and then they would have the right to that space."

DOA and Capitol Police spokesperson Stephanie Marquis released the following statement Tuesday:

“We thank Judge Conley for his thorough review of this issue.  His decision clearly recognizes that the permitting process is constitutional.  The permitting process has been part of Wisconsin’s law since 1979 to protect the safety of the building and the public.  We will continue to uphold the law to ensure the building can be shared by all citizens who come to the Capitol.”

Porter tells 27 News the injunction stands until a trial on the lawsuit. A trial is scheduled with Judge Conley in January. Porter says it's possible an agreement with the DOA could be reached before then, or the trial could be delayed further.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A federal judge has blocked some enforcement for who can legally gather in the state Capitol.

The policy that determines that was adopted by Governor Scott Walker's administration after the massive demonstrations in 2011 that grew to as large as 100,000 people.

The American Civil Liberties Union in February filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a person who regularly gathers in the Capitol over the noon hour to sing protest songs.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge William Conley issued a preliminary injunction barring the Walker administration from distinguishing the type of gathering for purposes of issuing a permit. Conley also barred enforcing the permit requirement for gatherings expected to draw 20 or fewer people.
 
Stephanie Marquis, Spokesperson with the Wisconsin Department of Administration had the following statement.

"We thank Judge Conley for his thorough review of this issue.  His decision clearly recognizes that the permitting process is constitutional.  The permitting process has been part of Wisconsin's law since 1979 to protect the safety of the building and the public.  We will continue to uphold the law to ensure the building can be shared by all citizens who come to the Capitol."

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