Capitol Access Suit Settled

The state and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have signed a settlement agreement ending the lawsuit ACLU filed against the state regarding state capitol building access. The agreement recognizes that DOA has the responsibility and authority under Wisconsin law to manage state buildings; acknowledges the permitting process that has been in place since 1979 is constitutional; and provides for a method to reserve space in the Capitol building in addition to permitting.

Earlier this summer the state began to crackdown on people and organizations who were demonstrating in the building without a permit, prompting the ACLU to sue on behalf of a participant in the Solidarity Singers daily sing-alongs in the capitol. ACLU argued that requiring a permit was violation of the First Amendment.

Under the agreement reached between the parties, groups of 12 or more who protest in the Capitol must either obtain a permit or give the Department of Administration advance notice. Groups of less than 12 will not be required to provide any advance notice or obtain a permit unless they are using a sound amplification system or other equipment as part of their demonstration.

The agreement is being codified in the Administrative Rules through an emergency rulemaking.