November 3, 2008

CFAF and its TRO

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has another update on the political speech scuffle between the Coalition for America's Families and a candidate for Wisconsin's 92nd Assembly District, Mark Radcliffe.

CFAF is understandably disturbed that a Jackson County judge on Saturday issued a temporary restraining order against the "shadowy" tax-exempt outfit — its permanent address is reportedly a post office box — for running a radio advertisement that Radcliffe claims is defamatory and violative of Wisconsin election law.

And the judge declined to rescind his order at a hearing yesterday.

Also, WisPolitics.com has published a CFAF press release, which claims that
Judge Lister said he was informed that an action was headed his way early Friday afternoon at which time he contacted the FCC. The FCC informed the Judge that a temporary restraining order against the radio stations would constitute a prior restraint of free speech and would therefore be unconstitutional. He issued the order anyway.
Except the order doesn't enjoin any radio stations, it enjoins the defendant, CFAF, from "causing" its advertisement to be broadcast.

Radcliffe's attorney forwarded the judge's order to radio stations with a cover letter, and they may make of it what they will.

There's likely to be more excitement later today. And if the defendant was anybody other than the Coalition for America's Families, I might even have some sympathy for them.

Update: The temporary restraining order is suspended (.pdf; 3 pgs.) — but not yet voided, pending Radcliffe's response — thanks in part to Benjamin L. Ginsberg (remember him?) of Washington, D.C.

If this rhubarb winds up in the Supreme Court (which it probably won't) it would surely require Justice Mike Gableman's recusal.

Meanwhile, resume practicing "Family Values."

5 comments:

Dustin said...

Even as a flaming liberal, I'm yet to be convinced that this ad is any different in factuality or partisan spin than any Obama or McCain ad. I heard this covered on the AM dial this morning, and even after I extracted all the conservative hyperbole, this whole ordeal just looks like a Doyle appointee flexing his muscles. I'd be interested to see how exactly this spin is different in factual content from the most egregious Democratic spin as chosen by a real (not me) conservative.

illusory tenant said...

Undoubtedly, there is a whole host of problems with this. Ultimately the key, if there is one, is proof of "actual malice" on the part of CFAF.

In the meantime it's entertaining simply because it involves CFAF, an ironically-named sleaze peddler from way back.

capper said...

There is a similar commercial being run in central WI by All Children Matter (another misnamed group). They are accusing the Dem candidate of similar things as CFAF, but not to the same level of depravity.

Chris Ahmuty said...

The ACLU/WI issued the following statement on Monday, Nov. 3, 2008:
The ACLU of Wisconsin today objected to the weekend decision of a County Circuit Court Judge who ordered the Coalition for America’s Families to take radio advertisements critical of Assembly candidate Mark Radcliffe off the air. Those advertisements asserted that Mr. Radcliffe supported the “Healthy Wisconsin” universal health insurance proposal. Radcliffe denies that he “supported” the proposal.

“The judge’s action amounts to an impermissible prior restraint on political speech,” said Christopher Ahmuty, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Especially during an election period, it is essential that debate on policy issues is wide-open and robust, so voters can make an informed vote. Political speech, even controversial political speech, stands ‘on the highest rung of the First Amendment hierarchy,’ according to the Supreme Court. Judges should not be in the business of deciding which political speech is acceptable for public consumption and which is not. If Mr. Radcliffe believes he has been falsely accused, he has as much right as the Coalition to take to the airwaves to set the record straight. And he can sue for damages and let a jury decide if he has proven that the Coalition’s advertisement was false and made with reckless disregard for the truth. But he is not entitled to have a Judge decide that the Coalition can’t even join the debate.”

The ACLU praised the Court of Appeals’ reversal of the County Circuit Court Judge’s temporary restraining order.

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Clutch said...

That Liberal ACLU!!