In the summer of 2013, hundreds of “Solidarity Singers” – a group of demonstrators who gathered inside the State Capitol Rotunda every week to sing civil rights and labor songs in protest of Act 10, were cited for allegedly engaging in unlawful assembly because they lacked a permit.

In response, the ACLU of Wisconsin went to court on behalf of Michael Kissick, a protester who stopped attending the sing-alongs for fear of being charged, arguing in a federal lawsuit that the new permitting rules the protesters violated were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. We challenged a 2011 policy change tightening the permitting process, which required groups of two or more to get a permit to assemble at the Capitol. In July 2013, the Court issued a preliminary injunction finding the rules likely violated the First Amendment and temporarily raising the number of people that would need a permit to 20.

In October of 2013, we reached a settlement with the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Under the terms of agreement, groups of 12 or less people would not be required to obtain a permit to protest at the Capitol, while groups of 12 or more would only be required to provide notice of their plans to protest. 

The majority of those cited under the state’s rules had their tickets dismissed.