Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a very anticlimactic decision in a challenge to one of the most speech-squelching laws in the country. The court split 3-3 over whether Government Accountability Rule 1.28 violates the First Amendment and the Wisconsin Constitution by requiring everyone to register with the government who, in the 60 days before a general election, spends more than $25 and so much as mentions a candidate for office in a negative or positive light. Three justices thought the rule was constitutional while the other three thought the case should not have been granted in the first place. The case was an “original action,” meaning it was only ever before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, so the legal effect of the case is it’s as though it never happened.
But, this isn’t the end of the story. There are two pending federal court challenges to Rule 1.28 that have been frozen in carbonite since the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted the case in late 2010. Those lawsuits can now proceed, so stay tuned . . .