Real Clear Politics: First Amendment Rights at Stake in Wis. Political Speech Case (In the News)

By David Keating
It is 3 a.m. when the pounding begins. You awake in daze, your dog is barking, your children are frightened and you can hear voices yelling at the front door. You look outside to see armed police officers, poised with a battering ram, ready to break into your home. You run, half-dressed, to the door, quickly inch it open, and suddenly the police are everywhere. Two of them drag your children out of bed, another is shouting at your husband who is desperately trying to calm down the dog, three more are grabbing your computers, and laptops, and cellphones. Another tells you to sit down and shut up or he will haul you out of the house in handcuffs. As you shiver in fear, your only thought is: What did I do? What crime did I commit that warrants such an aggressive and intimidating response?
You wrote an article publicly criticizing the local sheriff and his policies.  
Such a hypothetical seems unreal, like a scene from Orwellian science fiction or the Soviet Union. Surely it is impossible in present day America. The sad reality, however, is that such raids have already been conducted here in the United States, and the tactic by prosecutors has the potential to silence any speaker criticizing those in power, including reporters and bloggers. 
Victims of such abuses in Wisconsin went to court to stop it, and won in a federal District Court. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals slammed the courthouse door on the case, ruling that federal courts are not the place to contest abusive investigations by state officials. Now the plaintiffs’ last hope lies with the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.