And a Kenosha, Wis. dad says that’s what it took to get some relief from the school on his complaints that his daughter was being attacked and bullied by one of her kindergarten classmates. A school spokeswoman “said there are two sides to every story, but she couldn’t talk about specifics.” Depending on whether, e.g., health privacy laws happen to apply in the situation, it might be true as a legal proposition that she couldn’t talk about specifics. [Fox 11 Online]
The syndicated columnist praises Judge Rudolph Randa’s
remarkably emphatic ruling against an especially egregious example of Democrats using government power to suppress conservatives’ political speech.
Wisconsin’s sordid episode began, appropriately, with a sound of tyranny — fists pounding on the doors of private citizens in pre-dawn raids. While sheriff’s deputies used floodlights to illuminate the citizens’ homes, armed raiders seized documents, computers, cellphones and other devices.
Earlier here, here, etc.
And two Republican Wisconsin lawmakers are calling for a thorough review into the activities of the state Government Accountability Board, which “oversees Wisconsin campaign and election laws,” and whose contracted investigator, Dean Nickel, is reported to have played a role in setting in motion the process which resulted in the investigation of dozens of conservative organizations. [M.D. Kittle, Wisconsin Reporter/Watchdog.org] More: Milwaukee Federalist Society chapter roundup of coverage.
A federal judge has quashed the stunningly abusive “John Doe” proceedings that had resulted in midnight raids on the homes of leading conservative activists across the state. I’ve got more in a new Cato post; fuller coverage at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Watchdog.org (and series), and the decision itself is here. Earlier coverage here, here, and here. I conclude:
The citizens of Wisconsin must now demand a full accounting of how these raids could have happened. They should also insist on changes in state law, in particular the “John Doe” law, aimed at ensuring that nothing like them ever happens again.
Update: Seventh Circuit panel stays ruling pending appeal.
Caleb Brown interviews me for this new Cato podcast on a knotty question: when should a state attorney general decline to argue in court in defense of a law he thinks unconstitutional? On the one hand, the legal profession’s norms strongly favor giving every client and cause its day in court, and practical dysfunction might result were cases routinely handed over to others to defend or dropped entirely. On the other hand, attorneys general like other officials take an oath of office to the constitution, which calls in doubt whether they should (or even may) use their skills on behalf of unconstitutional measures. Complicating matters: how should unconstitutionality be assessed, by way of the AG’s own judgment, by way of predicting how the highest relevant court would rule, or by some other method? What kind of difference should it make whether the assessment appears certain, very probable, or more ambiguous than that?
In recent weeks about a half-dozen Democratic AGs around the country have declined to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage, on the grounds that they are inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision of last year, while other AGs both Republican and Democratic have argued in defense of those laws. (Today, Kentucky’s attorney general announced that he will not appeal a federal court ruling requiring the state to recognize out-of-state marriages, although the state’s governor is stepping in to do so.) Finding either liberals or conservatives who have preserved entirely consistent positions on the issue, though, is not always easy. Former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, a strong conservative, declined to defend a state education reform law last year, while in 2011 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen declined to defend a state domestic partnership registry they deemed unconstitutional. In a case like the latter it was liberals who tended to criticize the refusal to defend a law, and conservatives who applauded — patterns that to some extent have been reversed this time around.
A secret special prosecutor wielding “kitchen-sink” subpoenas takes aim at persons and groups who supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his recent showdown with public employee unions. “The probe began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, though no one will publicly claim credit for appointing Mr. Schmitz, the special prosecutor. The investigation is taking place under Wisconsin’s John Doe law, which bars a subpoena’s targets from disclosing its contents to anyone but his attorneys. … [Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O'Keefe] adds that at least three of the targets had their homes raided at dawn, with law-enforcement officers turning over belongings to seize computers and files.” [WSJ "Review and Outlook"]
According to Ed Schulze, an employee of the Society of St. Francis animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, nine state agents and four deputy sheriffs were “armed to the teeth” and appeared “like a SWAT team” when they descended without warning on the shelter two weeks ago. Their target? A fawn that shelter employees had rescued and planned to release into a wildlife preserve the next day. Possession of wildlife is unlawful in Wisconsin, and officials proceeded to euthanize (kill) the juvenile deer. [WISN]
Asked later why the action was staged as a surprise raid, supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer told WISN, “If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up.”
Much of the reaction to this story concentrates on sympathy for the deer, which is understandable, but please spare some thought for what happens to humans when such police conduct comes to be accepted as normal. Our coverage of Radley Balko’s new book on police militarization, Rise of the Warrior Cop, is here, here, here, etc.
For a second time, labor unions and their allies have failed to unseat a member of the majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which badly undercuts their chances of getting the court to invalidate Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. I’ve got details at Cato at Liberty.