Institute for Justice: Protecting Grassroots Activism

Freedom of speech and assembly are rights the United States Constitution, and the Wisconsin Constitution, readily recognize. Activism — persuading someone to a cause — should be free in a free society. Better put, we could not be a free society if conditions were otherwise.

And yet, that simple truth runs against the schemes of incumbents, insiders, and established groups to dominate the political landscape perpetually. To preserve their incumbency, politicians — once they become officer holders — are quick to discourage the activism of others.

In Washington State, and dozens of other states, legislators have made peaceful activism hard, and have consequently chilled peaceful political speech, to the benefit of the incumbents themselves.

The Institute for Justice shows how bad the situation is, and how extreme the penalties for political organizing.

Here’s the caption that accompanies the IJ video:

Washingtonians from both sides of the political spectrum filed a lawsuit today to stop their state from monitoring, collecting and publicly disseminating information about the political activities of private citizens who do nothing more than urge their fellow citizens to take political action. They seek to vindicate the belief that if the First Amendment protects anything, it protects the right of all Americans to speak to one another about the issues affecting their lives without having to first register with the government.

Link: Protecting Grassroots Activism.

Here’s a paper from the IJ that describes the challenge to political speech more fully —

Mowing Down the Grassroots.

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