Additionally, the ruling may push for some changes in campaign finance laws and may limit how prosecutors run a John Doe investigation.
In the majority opinion, Justice Michael Gableman, part of the court’s conservative majority, praised conservative groups for challenging the investigation, saying it was fortunate that prosecutors targeted “innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution”.
Justice Shirley Abrahamson, one of two liberals on the seven-member court, sharply disagrees and accuses the majority of a faulty interpretation of state law. This is particularly piquant in this case when one notes that Wisconsin also operates under the Second Worst Idea in American Politics – The Elected Judiciary.
“Within the realm of issue advocacy, the majority opinion’s theme is ‘Anything Goes.'”.
Walker, 47, announced July 13 he was joining the race for the Republican presidential nomination, entering a packed field that includes Sens.
Good cases certainly can be made for (in alphabetic order) Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio.
Walker had ventured to nearby Iowa and further afield to Israel to woo would-be voters, all the while shadowed by the uncertain status of the Wisconsin probe.
That heightened scrutiny was on display on Thursday in New Hampshire, where Walker was asked by reporters whether he was concerned he might hurt his standing by weighing in on social issues.
“Today’s ruling confirmed no laws were broken, a ruling that was previously stated by both a state and federal judge”, AshLee Strong said. The John Doe saga coming to a close is more significant for Walker than merely smoothing out a bump in the road to becoming the Republican nominee. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the court ordered that “the special prosecutor and the district attorneys … must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized … from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation”.
In an email to The Associated Press, lead prosecutor Francis Schmitz said he was disappointed with the ruling.
Schmitz, reached by phone, declined to comment on the decision. He said the group and O’Keefe were “improperly forced to defend themselves against the wide-ranging investigation” because of their support for Walker’s policy agenda. As such, the court ruled their actions are protected as free speech under Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws.
Judge Gregory Peterson concluded at the time that state law regulated only coordinated campaign spending, and not coordinated fundraising.
That last phase – “even if Walker’s campaign and the groups had worked together as prosecutors believe” – is of particular interest.
“The First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney, conduct demographic marketing research, or seek declaratory rulings before discussing the most salient political issues of our day”, Gableman quoted from the Citizens United case.
The Wisconsin Club for Growth was among several groups accused of violating election law.
“We’re pleased. The bottom line is we said all along that the courts would ultimately rule on the side of the original circuit court judge”, Walker said.
The U.S. Supreme Court on May 18 upheld that decision. Ahead of his visit this week, some speculated Walker’s recent absence – as candidates like Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina make almost weekly visits – might quash excitement around his campaign here.
He ticks off his own record, which most in the crowd are familiar with – “we took on the unions, and we won” – and his three victories in four years in a blue-leaning state. That sparked protests inside and outside the state’s capitol in Madison, a string of unsuccessful legal challenges and, in 2012, the failed recall. (Credit: AP)Prosecutors had alleged that collaboration between Walker’s 2012 campaign and Wisconsin Club for Growth amounted to an in-kind donation under Wisconsin’s Chapter 11 campaign-finance law.