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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back to Madison

Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse comments on the people "occupying" the Rotunda of the State Capital in Madison.  "Is it viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment for Wisconsin to permit the protesters to use the Capitol building as it has over the past 10+ days?"

She starts off referencing Donald Downs, a UW political science professor, who asks at a "teach in":
... whether it should be considered viewpoint discrimination for the protesters at the state capitol to be permitted to post signs and sleep overnight when other groups are not going to be given the same treatment.
This leads us to a US Supreme Court case, Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence, which holds a neutral rule regarding protestors and public parks, etc.
Assuming that overnight sleeping in connection with the demonstration is expressive conduct protected to some extent by the First Amendment, the regulation forbidding sleeping meets the requirements for a reasonable time, place, or manner restriction of expression, whether oral, written, or symbolized by conduct.  The regulation is neutral with regard to the message presented, and leaves open ample alternative methods of communicating the intended message concerning the plight of the homeless.
Reasonable rules and restrictions are OK.

And then Professor Althouse give us an essay exam:
At Christmastime, there is a big tree in the rotunda. The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn't like that.  This week's anti-Scott Walker people are banging on drywall buckets and chanting "This is what democracy looks like."  How about a hundred atheists in the rotunda for a week in December banging on buckets and chanting "This is what stupidity looks like"?  (Okay, there's a conlaw exam for you. Submit your answers and I'll grade.)
Anyone have any thoughts?

And, do we agree that the Republican Governor and legislators in power are acting wisely by letting this play out in a natural and unforced way?

Regards  —  Cliff


lance said...

What is viewpoint discrimination?

And more importantly, why are we wasting time on the great state of Wisconsin, when what we should be focusing on is jobs for the Country? We have spending reductions that need to be made, tax reform to be implemented and investments to ponder.

C R Krieger said...

I am focusing on Wisconsin because (1) Martha is from Wisconsin, (2) some local blogger brought it up, (3) Wisconsin has traditionally been a laboratory for political experimentation, (4) I almost always find Professor Althouse interesting, and, (5) there is a connection to larger issues in these United States.

Ah, viewpoint discrimination.  Should the Tea Party be allowed to occupy the Rotunda for ten or so days after the State Government Employee Unions go home, to make the Tea Party points?  Should half the Rotunda be reserved for Tea Party sleepovers even now?  What is fair?  What is Constitutional?

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

Viewpoint discrimination?

Like when corporations fund endless political TV ads, via Citizens United, assulting voters with spins and twisted realities?

The best VD money can buy?

That viewpoint discrimination?

Hmmm. I prefer the people standing up for themselves. The ones you can look in the eyes. For them this is not a footnote in the Annual Report to the shareholders.

C R Krieger said...

No, I think more the idea that Tea Party folks are not inside the Rotunda since it is fully occupied.  Actually, that isn't exactly true.  You can get in as onzies and twozies, as Professor Althouse and her husband (Meade) proved when they went into the Rotunda to suggest to those camped by the veterans memorial that they shouldn't be taping things to the memorial itself, but should be showing it respect.

The question is, is the Government (Wisconsin Government) accommodating one point of view and not giving equal accommodation to another, contrary point of view.  That big business or big unions can spend millions on advertising is a fact, but not the same issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

Cliff, are there any veterans interred in the rotunda? Or is at as sacred as the many memorial bridges we use from day to day? But I can appreciate the sentiment. I get riled when I see folks perched up on the Ladd & Whitney tomb.

And this idea that the State of Wisconson is favoring one side over others? How so? Because they haven't sent in the ANG to crack skulls?

The protestors have taken the Rotunda. It is not being loaned to them at the charity of Gov. Walker. But chin up.

Renee said...

Was thinking of camping out at Beacon Hill this year, instead of the White Mountains. It could be an educational vacation for the kids, while I ensure that Rep Golden and Sen Donoghue staff persuaded with my children's drumming skills and protest chants. Maybe we could do kazoos!

Now what could we lobby for, to make it legit?

There's valid arguments to the unions, but when you get wackier then me, you're wacky.