Statement from Larry Dupuis, ACLU of Wisconsin Legal Director:
The Lafayette County Board recently withdrew a proposal that sought to prosecute journalists for failing to publish news releases in their complete and unedited form, and is now considering a resolution that would sanction elected officials for speaking publicly about a water quality study without the consent of a panel of county representatives.
The Lafayette County Board should reject this proposed resolution and Board members should abandon their misguided efforts to suppress discussion of matters of public concern.
Government and elected officials do not surrender their First Amendment right to freedom of expression by serving the public. In fact, they are often in a unique position to speak about government affairs that would otherwise be hidden from public view.
Placing a prior restraint on elected officials' ability to communicate on a particular subject is precisely the sort of content-based censorship the First Amendment forbids.