Free Speech

Your right to speak freely without government censorship is arguably the most fundamental
right of a free society.  We defend that right.

Open Cases

Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin

Should the government be able to force attorneys to join and pay dues to an organization that takes positions they vehemently disagree with?  We don’t think so, and we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to prove it.

Speech First v. Killeen

This case involved a challenge to certain anti-speech policies at the University of Illinois and the use of a University “bias response team.” WILL Filed an amicus brief to oppose those policies to point out that surveillance of a protected activity by a direct authority opposed to that activity is inherently coercive; to note two recent examples showing that students have good reason to fear retaliation from a team of university officials dedicated to monitoring speech they oppose; and to show the prevalence of “bias response teams” in Wisconsin.

Closed Cases

Milwaukee v. Laur

The First Amendment protects the right of people to use public spaces to engage in free speech.  We successfully defended a street preacher from a municipal trespassing ticket.

Olsen v. NWTC

Can a public college stop its students from handing out Valentines?  Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College thinks so – and it thinks it can restrict the First Amendment to a tiny “free speech zone” on campus.  We think that’s unconstitutional, and filed a federal lawsuit to fix the problem.

John Doe Litigation

Wisconsin prosecutors engaged in a partisan witch hunt, targeting conservative political and issue groups and alleging that they illegally “coordinated” with the Scott Walker campaign.  We filed amicus briefs in a number of related cases standing up for the right of people to communicate with their elected officials without losing the right to speak on political issues.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed and shut down the investigation.

CRG Network v. GAB

Wisconsin law prohibited an independent committee from donating even $1 to a candidate if that candidate had already accepted a certain amount of donations from other committees.  This limitation discriminated solely on the basis of when a donation is made.  We sued to overturn it and were successful in having it declared unconstitutional.

Young v. GAB

Wisconsin had aggregate campaign contribution limits even lower than the federal limits.  When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal limits in the McCutcheon case, we filed this case and overturned the state limits.

Vanden Boogart v. Christensen

A small town near Green Bay had an ordinance banning nearly all yard signs.  Town officials played favorites by enforcing the ordinance against people who opposed wind turbine development, while ignoring signs that supported it.  We sued and obtained a substantial settlement from the Town for its blatant violation of First Amendment rights.

WPN v. Myse

Wisconsin’s now-defunct “Government Accountability Board” imposed burdensome regulations on individuals engaged in even the smallest amount of grassroots campaigning.  WILL took over the representation of an original action in the Wisconsin Supreme Court challenging those regulations, but the court split 3-3 and dismissed the case.

McCutcheon v. FEC

In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal aggregate campaign contribution limits, concluding that prohibiting donors from donating to as many candidates as they wanted (within individual limits) violate the First Amendment.  WILL filed an amicus brief arguing that the Court should stop giving more deference to contribution limits than to independent expenditure limits.

McAdams v. Marquette

Marquette guarantees its professors full academic freedom and First Amendment rights.  Yet it indefinitely suspended – without pay – Professor John McAdams, a tenured conservative professor, because he criticized a graduate student instructor who told a student his opinions on gay marriage were homophobic and could not be voiced in her class.  We sued Marquette University, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it breached McAdams’ teaching contract.

Lair v. Mangan

Can the government set campaign contributions so low that they effectively prevent political participation?  We don’t think so, and so we filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Montana’s rock-bottom limits.

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