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Politics & Government

Walker Administration Drops Permit Requirement for Capitol Sing Alongs

Under a settlement between the ACLU and DOA, demonstrators at the state Capitol must only provide notice that they will rally. Administrators must create the notice system. In February, the ACLU of Wisconsin sued the state Dept. of Administration, claiming its new rule violated citizens' constitutional right of free speech.  The agency required groups of four or more to get a state permit to hold daily sing alongs in the Capitol. They started in early 2011, following huge demonstrations there against Act 10.

The administration insisted it needed to maintain order in the building and began arresting and fining demonstrators who did not get a permit.

A federal judge had planned to decide the case in upcoming months, and in the meantime, told the state it could require groups of 20 or more to get a permit, but no fewer.

ACLU Legal Director Larry Dupuis says he's pleased with the out-of-court settlement, "because giving notice is significantly different from forcing people to ask the government for permission to exercise free speech.”

According to the settlement, "a person may give the DOA notice of a gathering of 12 or more people by phone, email, in person or via a form supplied by the state. Notice must be given at least two business days and not more than 10 business days before an event. Individuals and groups may also give notice for consecutive events, and there is no limit on how many notices an individual or group may provide."