It certainly looks like the Walker Administration lost it's argument about insisting that people assembling for redress of grievances in the state Capitol rotunda obtain a permit to do so. As part of an agreement with the ACLU, the state must create a notice system which allows groups to gather inside the Capitol without a permit.
OK, that sounds like Walker's running assault on First Amendment rights has suffered a certain blow, but I'm a little skeptical about exactly what the people won.
The settlement allows a permit to reign over a notice, which is not a problem because in the past, those in attendance always yielded the area to permit holders anyway. However, the settlement agreement contains far too many conflicting statements and troubling weasel words for my taste.
Under the agreement:
■ Groups with fewer than 12 participants in most cases would not be required to obtain a permit or provide advance notice for an event.
■ Groups with a dozen or more participants would be required to obtain a permit or provide advance notice of an event to use the Statehouse.
■ To provide advance notice, groups would have to notify the state at least two business days before the planned event and provide details of the event including the date, start and finish times, estimated number of attendees, and contact information for one or more people in the group. The event given advance notice could be canceled if it conflicted with a valid permitted event or a tour group.
Of course what most everyone is concerned about is the so-called "advanced notice" system that would replace the process of formal permits. For one thing, IF a signature is required on the advanced notice, the notice server could become a target for liability claims UNLESS the notice carries a specific disclaimer on any and all liability.
Secondly, they want an awful lot of details in the notice while no one knows just how many people might attend or participate in those events. There could be two or two hundred on any given day. With that, it really doesn't matter whether they want an advanced notice beginning with a minimum of four, twelve or twenty participants because everyone understands that Solidarity Sing Alongs and all assemblies begin with a group of one.
So, as long as there is no liability assumed with the advanced notice system and all notices are accepted with an estimate of ONE attendee, then it's a substantial win for 1st Amendment rights at the State Capitol. Without that however, it becomes a half-baked surrender in my humble opinion. But we won't know for sure until Walker's DOA release the final "rules" regarding the notice system.
The Pro-Walker MacIver Institute predictably spins the advanced notice as a "new permitting process".
ACLU of Wisconsin - ACLU Announces Settlement in Capitol Free Speech Case
Blue Cheddar - Walker admin. drops permit requirement for Solidarity Sing Along, allows “notices”
Wisconsin Soapbox - Solidarity Sing-Along Wins!
Democurmudgeon - Big Win for Capitol Protesters!!! Proving right wing "get a permit" advocates not real big on "Freedom."
Waukesha Wonk - How much will Gov. Walker’s “Capitol Crackdown” cost Wisconsin taxpayers?