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May 7, 201410:54 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Judge Randa rescues the First Amendment from the guillotine and the gulag

(page 1 of 2)

Glory, glory hallelujah! Free speech survives in Wisconsin after all. The Constitution prevails. The People are free.

No thanks to the majoritarian progressive opinion leaders in Madison — all of whom were silent as sheriff’s deputies descended on private homes in pre-dawn raids, the homes lit up by blinding floodlights.

On Tuesday, Federal Judge Rudolph Randa stopped the secret, seemingly never-ending John Doe witch hunt dead in its tracks. The criminal investigation was the worst assault on free speech since Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee 60 years ago. No longer may partisan government prosecutors wage their secret vendetta against conservative allies of Scott Walker — and perhaps the governor himself — for conspiring to commit — what? — free speech. The judge noted:

Deputies executed search warrants, seizing business papers, computer equipment, phones and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorney.

Meanwhile, the targets were court ordered to remain silent. No, they could not even protest their treatment, nor proclaim their innocence, under penalty of law. Medieval England’s star chamber courts seem like Romper Room by comparison.

Judge Randa’s 26-page opinion is a bracing defense of the First Amendment, so besieged by today’s progressives. His ruling in O’Keefe and Club for Growth v Schmitz, et al. completely demolishes the case for more government management of citizen speech. It should shame the so-called journalists who remained silent, acquiesced in, or silently thrilled in the pre-dawn speech raids. And that is nearly all of them. Some takeaways:

Money IS speech — “Express advocacy money represents protected First Amendment speech.” Just as money is food, etc. (Try walking out of the supermarket without paying.)

Government censorship is the worse evil — Can money corrupt? Sure. But “the larger danger is giving government an expanded role in uprooting all forms of perceived corruption which may result in corruption of the First Amendment itself. … Maximizing First Amendment freedom is a better way to deal with political corruption than allowing the seemingly corruptible to do so. As other histories tell us, attempts to purify the public square lead to places like the Guillotine and the Gulag.”

Move to Amend is progressive censorship. The O’Keefe decision refutes entirely the case to geld the Bill of Rights. The “Move to Amend” cause has been taken up by the likes of John Nichols, The New York Times, and the Democratic Party. (“Chuck Schumer thinks he can improve on James Madison,” notes The Wall Street Journal, one of the few heroes of the Wisconsin John Doe saga.)

The Bill of Rights restricts government, not the people

The government does not run the government. Rather, the people run their government, first within the framework of the restrictions placed on government by the Constitution, and second by the constitutional rights each citizen possesses that are superior to the operation of government.  One of these rights is the First Amendment right to speak freely, which ― has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office.

Randa quoted the 2009 Citizens United v. FEC case: “The First Amendment is premised on mistrust of governmental power.” Indeed, the judge said, the Bill of Rights restricts government, not the people.

The danger always exists that the high purpose of campaign regulation and its enforcement may conceal self-interest, and those regulated by the Constitution in turn become the regulators. [Citing 2014’s McCutcheon v FEC.] “Those who govern should be the last people to help decide who should govern.”

The prosecutors’ ultimate aim would require conservative organizations to report their issue advocacy speech as an in-kind contribution to Scott Walker’s re-election campaign. “This interpretation is simply wrong,” Randa wrote.


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Comments, page 1 of 3 1 2 3 Next »
May 7, 2014 12:44 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

question for blaska,

Who is the judge's judicial assistant ?

May 7, 2014 12:46 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

blaska should you be sued for incorrect information?

May 7, 2014 01:10 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

That's a hypothetical question.

May 7, 2014 02:31 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

It's interesting how conservatives view the First Amendment. Regulate the billions spent on political advertising? Of course not. And I'm with them all the way on that. For real. Open the floodgates. Let's see so many advertisements that they lose all of their effectiveness. I'm a First Amendment liberal, as in more speech is always better than less speech. Don't ever tell someone to shut up. But then to turn around and pretend that their protestations over the presence of protesters at the state Capitol are about anything other than silencing a voice they do not want to hear? Please. Free speech for me, but not for thee is the American way and it's reflected often in this blog.

May 7, 2014 03:36 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

No one I know has a problem with protestors in the Capitol rotunda. Asking only that they not pre-empt the space so as to permit other voices to be heard. As in the nation's Capitol @ Washington D.C.

May 8, 2014 07:29 am
 Posted by  Anonymous


You are poorly informed then. Every R in the big building has bad-mouthed the protestors, on TV, radio and in print. You really should get out more.

May 8, 2014 10:42 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

And still,

Who is randa's judicial assistant?

If you are going to comment on the news, comment on it all !!

Not just what works for you and your allies.

May 8, 2014 11:13 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

May 8, 2014 12:13 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Even though the 7th has temporarily stayed Judge Randa's order, at least Chisholm's illegal witch hunt has been stopped.

May 8, 2014 12:45 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Fixed it: Federal judge stops Doe probe again, calls appeal frivolous

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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