I am not a lawyer, so much of what I am about to report I do not totally understand. What I do understand is that our judicial system can be used for nefarious purposes by those with political goals. That is one of many reasons we need the kind of tort reform that makes the person bringing a lawsuit with no merit pay court costs and damages. We have a bogus lawsuit going on in Wisconsin designed to oust Scott Walker from the 2016 presidential race.
Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line posted a story explaining how much of the press is misleading the public about the charges against Governor Walker.
I am quoting the article extensively because I don’t have the legal background to explain exactly what is going on.
The article reports:
Here is what is going on: a group of partisan local prosecutors launched a never-ending “John Doe investigation” into essentially every conservative group in the state of Wisconsin. The “investigation” is a scandal, a naked effort to shut down conservative speech. Federal Judge Rudolph Randa described how the investigation proceeded in an Order dated May 6, 2014.
…The case in which Judge Randa ruled was brought by the Club For Growth and Eric O’Keefe. Plaintiffs alleged that the purported investigation was in reality an unconstitutional infringement of their First Amendment rights, intended to deter the expression of conservative speech. Judge Randa agreed. In his May 6 Order, he found that the partisan “investigation” had no legal basis:
“The defendants are pursuing criminal charges through a secret John Doe investigation against the plaintiffs for exercising issue advocacy speech rights that on their face are not subject to the regulations or statutes the defendants seek to enforce. This legitimate exercise of O‘Keefe‘s rights as an individual, and WCFG‘s rights as a 501(c)(4) corporation, to speak on the issues has been characterized by the defendants as political activity covered by Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin Statutes, rendering the plaintiffs a subcommittee of the Friends of Scott Walker and requiring that money spent on such speech be reported as an in-kind campaign contribution. This interpretation is simply wrong.”
Judge Randa analyzed the law as it relates to campaign finance. He noted that the conservative groups denied any coordination, and their denials appear to be well-founded. But, in any event, their activities were constitutionally protected and cannot be the basis of a criminal investigation.
After Judge Randa made that ruling, the people who brought the case against all of the conservative groups appealed.
The article continues:
The Court of Appeals issued an order to the effect that Judge Randa would need to make a finding that the defendants’ appeal was frivolous in order to retain jurisdiction. That resulted in another Order, dated May 8, 2014, in which Judge Randa described the discredited prosecutors’ appeal as “the height of frivolousness.”
The article concludes:
An appellate judge has now ordered certain pleadings in the case to be unsealed, an order to which the Club For Growth did not object. The hysterical accusations against Scott Walker that the Associated Press, the Washington Post and others are now gleefully celebrating are simply the unfounded assertions that the prosecutors made in a failed effort to justify their partisan investigation. They are precisely the allegations that have been resoundingly rejected by the federal judge who has presided over the case and who has found the defendants’ investigation to be a naked violation of the conservative groups’ constitutional rights.
So the reporters who are now trumpeting the discredited prosecutors’ assertions either have no understanding of the case, or they are part of the partisan witch hunt that gave rise to the unconstitutional investigation in the first place.
This type of lawsuit brought against conservative groups has two purposes–as the groups fight it, it costs them tons of money, draining their resources that would be used to get their message out. The other purpose is to discourage other conservative groups from speaking out. This type of lawsuit has also been used to quell free speech in other areas–anyone who says something negative about Islam is likely to be sued by the Council on American–Islamic Relations ( CAIR).
Our judicial system works, but it can be abused. We need to follow the example of Texas in instituting tort reform to prevent people from using our court system for political ends.