Federal Judge Halts Wisconsin Election Law


State campaign finance laws are usually very burdensome and perplexing.  Nonetheless, some states require churches and other groups to comply with these complex laws simply for speaking out on important moral issues that are on the local ballot, such as marriage.  That requires a church to register with the state and fill out reams of paperwork.

ADF is always on the lookout for these types of government restrictions on churches and people of faith, and has successfully challenged such laws in the past.  So we were glad to hear that last week a Wisconsin federal judge halted enforcement of a state law that required residents to register with the state and jump through all kinds of other bureaucratic hoops just to communicate with fellow citizens on a ballot issue.  The case was brought by Jim Bopp’s James Madison Center for Free Speech, on behalf of a resident who wanted to distribute post cards to his neighbors to encourage them to vote no on a local liquor ballot initiative.

It’s a good win and reaffirms that people shouldn’t have to register with the state before they speak out on important moral issues. In this case, it means that the citizen who challenged the law can advocate for the ballot measure without having to register with the state and submit reams of paperwork.  And it means that next time there’s an important moral issue on the ballot, churches will also be free to advocate for it without fearing prosecution if they don’t register with the state first. 

Incidentally, as a refresher for what pastors and churches can and can’t do during an election, you might want to check out our “Guidelines for Political Activities by Churches and Pastors.”

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts or follow us on Facebook to join the conversation. http://www.facebook.com/SpeakUpChurch


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