MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - A marijuana-rights advocate claims Wisconsin is unconstitutionally demanding that people obtain permits to demonstrate at the state Capitol. Ben Masel claims that if such permits were necessary before, the requirement was never enforced.
Masel sued the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration Mike Huebsch, and Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs, in Dane County Court.
Masel, who describes himself as "pro-choice on everything," on his MySpace page, is vice president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - which is not a party to his complaint.
He challenges Wisconsin's "State Facilities Use Permits Policies and Procedures," which he claims are unconstitutionally applied "to persons and groups wishing to engage in expressive activities outdoors, on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Capitol."
In addition to creating "a prior restraint on expressive activity under circumstances where no prior restraint is permitted," Masel says, the Permits Policies and Procedures are self-contradictory: requiring that an application be submitted 4 weeks ahead of time, while the form required to obtain the permit (DOA-4675) requires only 72 hours lead time.
He adds that the Policies and Procedures fail "to provide an avenue for prompt judicial review" of denials, prohibit sales and solicitation of contributions, prohibit displays such as banners, and sound amplification, limit the size of literature tables, require protesters to pay for extra police if needed, and require insurance coverage.
Masel wants the Permits Policies and Procedures enjoined.
He is represented by Jeff Scott Olson of Madison.
In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal last week, Masel said he dying of lung cancer, but has "been a constant presence at the Capitol protests over the past month."
The article reports that he told his doctor, "If I'm going to be deceased today, I can't think of a better place than in the rotunda."
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