I am thrilled to report that late yesterday a three judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in our favor in WRTL v. Barland II. This free speech victory declared two onerous GAB rules and portions of state law unconstitutional. While we don’t yet know the full impact of this decision on our operations, the most important result is that the state organization and our chapters will be able to conduct issue advocacy, including distribution of candidate comparison pieces, without being subject to extensive regulations.
This challenge began in 2010 when GAB first promulgated its rules. For a time, the State Supreme Court enjoined the rules but then lifted its injunction in March of 2012. At that time, we resumed our challenge in federal court, lost at the district court level and have now succeeded on appeal.
I read the 88 page decision last night and was both proud and humbled to see references to prior WRTL free speech cases used as the basis for this new decision. We are indebted to the Jim Bopp law firm for the heavy lifting on the legal issues on our behalf. Wisconsin Right to Life has clearly established itself as a national leader in the annals of history as a fierce protector of our most basic First Amendment right to freely associate and speak on behalf of those we defend.