Wyoming Liberty Group
More fretting has begun about just what Merrick Garland would mean for the United States if confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. But in focusing too strongly on one unlikely nominee, Garland, we may forget what a new Justice may mean for political free speech and association.
With adverse changes to the state’s economy, the 2016 Wyoming Budget Session lived up to its name far more than it did throughout the mini-boom of the last half decade. Nevertheless, the Legislature considered some important non-budget items. One short bill, Senate File 35, died a quick death on third reading in the Senate, with a final vote of 14-16. SF35 would have removed the provision in Wyoming law that prohibits paying ballot petition circulators for each signature they collect. (Last year, I mistakenly believed that this provision was removed in an omnibus reform to the initiative and referenda process.)
Wyoming citizens face a new threat from the State Legislature. However this threat is not a new tax proposal or another attempt to further regulate daily life. Rather, this threat is a power grab by legislative leadership to further concentrate power over the legislature in the hands of the top legislative offices. This will shift even more control over the rank and file lawmakers from Wyoming voters to micromanaging legislative leaders.
Almost three years ago, amidst the debacle over the notorious Senate File 104 (2013) which removed most of then-Superintendent Cindy Hill’s powers and reassigned them to an appointee of the governor, Hill sent a silly threat letter to certain legislators alleging defamation. Nothing ever came of it. The episode is but a footnote in a saga that ended with an important decision from the Wyoming Supreme Court overturning SF104. However, as reported in the Casper Star Tribune, Hill—again represented by attorney Robert DiLorenzo—recently went so far as to file a defamation lawsuit against state Representative Tim Stubson, who is also a candidate in the race to succeed Rep. Cynthia Lummis in the United States House.
Cheyenne residents were upset when they learned that City of Cheyenne officials had sent a notice of violation to a homeowner at the corner of Warren and 3rd Avenues demanding that she remove a cottonwood tree stump that is located in the City’s right-of-way. According to the Cheyenne Urban Forestry Division’s Assistant Director, “in the case of stumps, it’s often an aesthetic issue when the stumps need to be removed. City regulations require the stump to be removed and ground up to a depth of 8 inches.” However, the landowner claims that her stump is special because she had it carved into a statue. So is it a stump or a statute? And a quick look around Cheyenne raises an even more fundamental question, should it even make a difference?
MADISON, WI — Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its ruling in “The John Doe Cases,” an appeal consolidating numerous cases relating to a secret investigation of numerous political groups and citizens in the state. In its ruling, the court accepted a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Wyoming Liberty Group and agreed with the brief’s argument that the Wisconsin law in question is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.