Judge Bans Wisconsin Political Spots
November 3, 2008 at 5:31 AM (PT)
A group's radio ads in a WISCONSIN assembly race have been banned by a county judge before they aired. JACKSON COUNTY Circuit Judge THOMAS LISTER issued an order stopping the airing of ads by the COALITION FOR AMERICA'S FAMILIES because the ads against Democrat MARK RADCLIFFE, in his opinion, might not be true and could be defamatory.
An appeal by the COALITION to LISTER to remove the order was rejected on SUNDAY, and the group is appealing that decision. The judge's move is highly unorthodox, and the group is protesting the decision as impermissible judicial prior restraint of free speech.
"The Judge has allowed a public figure to ban our criticism of his publicly broadcast support for (controversial health care plan) HEALTHY WISCONSIN because he now says he doesn’t support it," CFAF spokesman R.J. JOHNSON. "RADCLIFFE's attorney told the Judge it was unfair for CFAF to base RADCLIFFE's support for HEALTHY WISCONSIN on a radio interview during which he was forced to speak favorably about the plan because he was 'put in a box' by his primary opponent. If Judge LISTER's ruling is allowed to stand, any public official will now have the opportunity to stifle criticism of their public positions, simply by changing them. That would be a sad day for democracy."