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Federal appeals court sides with Evers over press access

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers can exclude members of a conservative think tank from attending press briefings and keep them off his email list sent to other reporters, upholding a ruling from a lower court.

The MacIver Institute for Public Policy filed the lawsuit in 2019 alleging that Evers violated its staffers’ constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of the press and equal access.

But U.S. District Judge James Peterson in March 2020 rejected their arguments, saying MacIver can still report on what Evers does without being invited to his press briefings or being on his email distribution list.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld that decision.

“The Governor’s office has created neutral laws of general application and MacIver has not shown any evidence that it was excluded based on its viewpoint,” the appeals court said..

MacIver had argued that Evers was excluding its staffers, and violating their free speech rights, because they are conservatives.

MacIver covers legislative meetings and other events at the Capitol as well as some Evers news conferences. But they sued after being excluded from a media briefing Evers gave for reporters on his state budget proposal in 2019.

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