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Walker and Conservatives call on Supreme Court to hear access case


MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – A conservative think tank and former Republican Gov. of Wisconsin Scott Walker are asking the United States Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ decision to exclude the group writers of media outlets, which the lower courts have said is legal.

The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy filed a complaint in 2019 alleging that Evers violated its employees’ constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of the press, and equal access.

A judge in 2020 dismissed their arguments, saying MacIver can still report on Evers without being invited to his media briefings or appearing on his email distribution list. In April, the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the ruling.

Last month, the MacIver Institute asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty submitted a supporting brief on Tuesday, on behalf of Walker, which Evers defeated in 2018.

Walker and his lawyers have argued that the Evers ruling allows censorship because it allows for the picking and picking of journalists who attend news events that have long been open to journalists but closed to the general public.

The appeals court ruled earlier this year that Evers’ criteria for media access were reasonable and that he had no obligation to grant access to every media outlet at every press conference.

“We can’t imagine the chaos that could ensue if every governor’s press event were to be open to any ‘qualified’ journalist with only the most stringent restrictions on who could be excluded,” the court said. call.

MacIver had argued that Evers excludes its employees and violates their free speech rights because they are conservative. Evers said they were excluded because they are not primarily an information-gathering operation and they are not neutral.

Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback referred to the governor’s previous court records when asked to comment on Walker’s support for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

MacIver covers legislative meetings and other events on Capitol Hill as well as some Evers press conferences. But they continued after being excluded from a press briefing Evers gave reporters on his 2019 state budget proposal. Evers was not present, but members of his administration provided information to reporters on the embargo ahead of his budget speech in the Legislature that evening.

The appeals court noted that a limited number of journalists were allowed to attend the event. Reporters from the Associated Press, as well as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal, were among those in attendance at the briefing.

Former governors, including Walker, have also limited the number of journalists and media who can attend budget briefings and other events.

“Governor Evers’ treatment of the press presents unique First Amendment and equal protection concerns,” Anthony LoCoco, attorney for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said in a statement. by restricting access to the press without sufficient justification.

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This story has been corrected to show Evers defeated Walker in 2018, not 2010