WI supreme court ruled on the “John Doe” assaults on free speech. As one of the litigants stated, “It does not take a law degree to know that raiding family homes in the dark to look for political papers is un-American.” I’d say. Hope the story cuts through the clutter.
This article in National Review covers it pretty well; an excerpt:
The John Doe statute empowered the prosecutor to issue gag orders on raid targets, prohibiting them from defending themselves even as leaks to the press cast them as suspected criminals. The Court has now ruled that the legal reasoning from which the entire investigation proceeded was fatally flawed.
The problem with the prosecutor’s theory, according to today’s ruling, is that Chapter 11 applies only to “express advocacy” — speech that “expressly advocates the election, defeat, recall or retention of a clearly identified candidate or a particular vote at a referendum.” Consequently, the court held:
The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection. The special prosecutor’s theories, rather than ‘assur[ing] [the] unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people’ . . . instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished.
In its first story about the court’s ruling, the New York Times claimed that the case raised “broader questions about how political campaigns and independent groups may interact in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, which gave wide latitude to outside campaign spending.” This is wrong. The legal precedent granting broad constitutional protection for issue advocacy is quite clear. The “broader questions” raised by the case are far more consequential: Will the aftermath of the John Doe witch hunt halt a disturbing trend toward attempting to criminalize political disagreements…