As if the idea of designated “free speech zones” isn’t a skin-crawlingly bad enough test of the bounds of free speech, here comes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to up the creepy ante: Why not charge protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights on state property? That’s just what Walker has proposed under a new policy that’s already in effect in his home state. —KA
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
The policy, which also requires permits for events at the statehouse and other state buildings, took effect Thursday and will be phased in by Dec. 16. Walker administration officials contend the policy simply clarifies existing rules.
State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants “shall be liable to the state … for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use.”
But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.
“I’m a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,” he said. “You can’t really put a price tag on the First Amendment.”