Friday, December 19, 2008

Coalition for America's Families fighting back for their free speech rights

The Coalition for America's Families has filed a complaint against Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Lister, the judge that unlawfully shut down their free speech rights during the last election.

A special interest group has filed an ethics complaint against a judge who ordered the group to take a campaign ad off the air just before the Nov. 4 election.

The group alleges Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Lister had inappropriate communications with the plaintiff and others. The judge also delayed alerting the group about his order to take the ad off the air and improperly agreed to an interview with the Journal Sentinel, the group alleges.

Lister ordered the Coalition for America’s Families to take an ad critical of Assembly candidate Mark Radcliffe off the air after holding a hearing with Radcliffe that the coalition wasn’t invited to. The coalition halted the ad but began running it a few hours later when an appeals court stayed Lister’s decision.

The appeals court said Lister was premature in ordering the ad off the air because he hadn’t yet determined whether the ad was false or defamed Radcliffe. The coalition says its spot was accurate.

Meanwhile, Radcliffe's complaint against CFAF that was the excuse for Lister's abuse of power is continuing to be a source of controversy. Radcliffe wants to drop the complaint because he got what he wanted, the injunction. Once again, a candidate has abused the process to try to stifle criticism. Just as in the Van Hollen case, there is nothing to discourage a candidate from filing these kinds of frivolous complaints unless there is some kind of penalty. In the Van Hollen situation, he ended up bearing some of the court costs. As RJ Johnson pointed out to the Tomah Journal, CFAF had a substantial cost in defending their first amendment rights. Radcliffe should be forced to bear some of that cost.

Radcliffe should not be rewarded with a "campaign finance reform" law that would discourage groups like CFAF from participating in the democratic process.