Monday, February 28, 2011

ACLU of WI Issues Letter to DOA on Fair Access to Capitol

Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin in a letter to Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Michael Huebsch insisted that the Secretary ensure fair access to the Capitol. The Department has restricted access to the Capitol by citizens wishing to exercise their rights to free speech and assembly.

ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty said, "We felt compelled to write the Secretary as his emerging directives impose unwarranted content-based restrictions on those visiting the Capitol Building."

The ACLU's letter reads in part, "Prohibiting protesters on either side of the debate from entering the Capitol during normal business hours or during legislative hearings or sessions, while allowing others with 'business' in the Capitol to enter, is manifestly content-based and, hence presumptively unconstitutional."

Ahmuty, said of the letter, "The ACLU of Wisconsin and its members across Wisconsin want a prompt answer to the concerns and requests in our letter to Secretary Huebsch. The rights of our fellow Wisconsin residents can't be suspended or curtailed for administrative convenience or political posturing."

During the last two weeks the ACLU of Wisconsin and cooperating attorneys have deployed volunteer legal observers at and around the Capitol on a nearly continuous basis to protect the rights of all demonstrators to peacefully protest to distributing "bust cards" to protesters and by monitoring the authorities for violations of rights.

The full letter and ACLU of Wisconsin statement is available on our website. For current information on the conditions at the Wisconsin state Capitol, please follow the ACLU Madison office on Twitter or visit our Twitter page.