MADISON — Former Gov. Scott Walker is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take a Wisconsin freedom of the press case in which Gov. Tony Evers’ handlers locked out conservative reporters from covering executive press events.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has submitted an amicus to the high court on behalf of Walker, a Republican.
John K. MacIver Institute v. Evers presents the court with a critical dispute over the power of state actors to curtail press freedom by picking and choosing which press outlets receive access to briefings on matters of public importance.
In 2019, reporters from the MacIver Institute were intentionally excluded from press briefings, media alerts, and public events hosted by the governor. Empower Wisconsin Executive Director M.D. Kittle, who worked at MacIver at the time, was one of the reporters barred from attending the governor’s closed-door budget briefing with the press.
The Liberty Justice Center, a Chicago-based public interest law firm, filed a lawsuit in April 2019 in U.S. District Court arguing the actions of Evers violate, among other things, the First Amendment’s Free Press Clause. After decisions in the lower courts, Liberty Justice Center is appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Governor Evers’ treatment of the press presents unique First Amendment and Equal Protection concerns. The Court’s review is warranted to ensure that government officials are not permitted to erode press freedom by restricting press access without sufficient justification,” said Anthony LoCoco, WILL’s deputy counsel.
WILL’s amicus brief, on behalf of the former governor, argues a decision in the U,S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that sided with Evers applied the wrong legal doctrine to the case. WILL urges the Supreme Court to take the case in part so it can determine whether Evers violated the Equal Protection Clause, which the Seventh Circuit did not do.
Walker, who served two terms as Wisconsin’s 45th governor, is a strong supporter of transparency in government and a robust free press. In 2020, Walker became president of Young America’s Foundation (YAF), a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values. YAF publishes the New Guard and Libertas, and its National Journalism Center has trained aspiring journalists in the values of responsible, balanced, and accurate reporting since 1977.