ACLU Agrees to New Capitol Permitting Process for Solidarity Singers

Groups of 12 or more will require a permit in the Capitol

MacIver News Service | October 8, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] The American Civil Liberties Union and the Wisconsin Department of Administration have reached a new agreement about Capitol access that will continue to affect protesters, who gather in the rotunda daily for their “solidarity sing along.”

The ACLU acknowledges that DOA has the authority to police the Capitol, and agreed that groups of 12 or more will need permits to hold events in the Capitol. Before this new agreement, the limit was set at 20 people by US District Judge William Conley.

“Groups with 12 or more participants will be required to obtain a permit or provide advance notice of an event to use the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. An event not properly noticed may be deemed unlawful,” the agreement reads.

The permits are free.

The agreement also requires DOA to establish “an additional method by which groups may reserve space in the Capitol.” To meet this requirement, DOA will take steps to create an online form that will allow individuals to give advance notice for any event in the Capitol.

DOA has begun enforcing a permitting process in order to prevent scheduling conflicts between the singers and other groups that would like to use the rotunda. Dozens of protesters have been arrested, cited, and await jury trials because they refuse to apply for a permit, claiming it violates the First Amendment. DOA argued the protesters were violating others’ First Amendment rights.

“The Capitol is where the people’s business occurs – where all citizens should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch in a press release.

The ACLU has dispatched observers to the Capitol regularly to record incidents occurring due to the singers’ presence. It filed an injunction on February 11, 2013 to challenge the permitting process. The case was expected to go to trial early next year.

The full agreement can be seen here.