Press Release
May 11, 2017

Robin Vos Directed Campus Free Speech Attack

Speaker’s Office Ignored Attorney Concerns Over Problematic Language

MADISON, Wis. — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was the legislator who initiated and directed the development of legislation threatening students with expulsion for exercising their First Amendment right to denounce hate speech on University of Wisconsin campuses, according to a review of drafting records. Documents reviewed by One Wisconsin Now show how a staff person from Vos’ office requested model legislation written by a right wing think tank be drafted as a bill for consideration by the Wisconsin legislature.

“The records show this attack on the First Amendment rights of students and faculty to create mandatory safe spaces for racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic right-wing provocateurs was instigated at the behest of Robin Vos and overseen by his office,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Doesn’t the most powerful guy in the Assembly have something better to do with his time than drafting bills to bully students and intimidate faculty?”

According to an email the Vos office requested a bill be “drafted as is stated in the attachment.” The “Campus Free Speech Act” was produced by the Goldwater Institute, an Arizona based think tank whose operations are underwritten by some of the largest right wing funders including the Bradley, Koch and Walton foundations.

A Vos staffer also added a provision requiring a policy to sanction students for engaging in protests judged to be “indecent, profane or boisterous,” despite concerns raised by the drafting attorney that the language was problematic due to the terms being broad and ambiguous.

In addition to the threats to students, the bill includes a provision requiring institutions to remain “neutral on public policy controversies” that could restrict faculty from doing research or commenting on public policy issues facing the state and the nation.

After directing the drafting of the bill, Vos appears to have turned the bill over to “lead author” fellow Assembly Republican Rep. Jesse Kremer. In a recent radio interview, ostensible bill author Kremer admitted “I agree” with critics who call the bill unconstitutional.

Ross concluded, “Not only would this bill expel students for using their constitutional right to free speech, but also it could inhibit professors from conducting research and releasing research on critical public policy issues. It’s worse than big government, it’s Big Brother.”

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

wooden school desk with apple
Press Release

Republican Bill Would Put Guns in Wisconsin Schools

Wisconsin Republicans are introducing a second bill aimed at putting guns into K-12 schools in the state, the latest version aimed at private schools.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
02/19/2018
question mark
Press Release

What Did Michael Screnock Promise the NRA?

We deserve to know today what promises state Supreme Court candidate Michael Screnock made to the NRA to get the gun lobby’s endorsement.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
02/19/2018
jeremy thiesfeldt gun tweet
Press Release

Republican Shares Article Romanticizing Guns in Schools

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt took to social media to share an article from a right-wing website romanticizing the presence of guns in schools years ago.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
02/16/2018
impeach donald trump facebook
Press Release

Trump Nominee to Court Seat Fails to Disclose Shocking Comments

The writings of Donald Trump’s nominee, Gordon Giampietro, reveal he holds views that disqualify him from a lifetime appointment to the federal court.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Institute
02/16/2018
wisconsin state capitol nra
Press Release

NRA Campaign Cash and Endorsements Put Wisconsin on Lockdown

Millions of dollars in campaign spending and political endorsements by the NRA have bought the pro-gun lobby access to top state Republicans.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
02/15/2018
why courts matter usa map
Press Release

Red Flags, Blue Slips Should Sink Nomination of Michael Brennan

The Senate Judiciary today set aside common decency and its own traditions and rules in voting to approve Donald Trump’s nomination of Michael Brennan.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Institute
02/15/2018
money with heart pin
Press Release

Big Corporate Special Interest Shows Michael Screnock the Love

The latest information on advertising reveals special interests are showing state Supreme Court candidate Michael Screnock the love on Valentine’s Day.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
02/14/2018
why courts matter graphic
Press Release

Get Schooled About Red Flags on Nomination of Mike Brennan

UW-Madison student Louise schools the nation on one of the reasons why Mike Brennan ought not be given a lifetime appointment to the federal courts.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Institute
02/14/2018