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Wisconsin smackdown

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Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Stung by GOP Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to curb the power of public employee unions, Big Labor's Democrat puppets forced failed recall elections. Now, thankfully, a judge's ruling that suggests politically motivated prosecutors trashed their targets' First Amendment rights has blocked further Democrat efforts to undo the will of Wisconsinites.

The ruling remains sealed, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, but The Wall Street Journal obtained a copy. It concerns a “John Doe probe” of whether dozens of conservative groups and Mr. Walker coordinated anti-recall support illegally under Wisconsin's campaign laws. Gag orders kept the targets quiet.

Quashing subpoenas, the judge wrote that prosecutors lack evidence (and don't even claim) that those groups engaged in “express advocacy” — directly urging a candidate's election or defeat — and therefore didn't show probable cause of campaign violations.

The ruling “vindicates our suspicion that the John Doe probe,” begun in a Democrat Milwaukee County assistant district attorney's office, “is a political operation intended to shut up Mr. Walker's allies as he seeks re-election this year,” The Journal editorialized. It added that the subpoenas “failed to demonstrate the narrow and targeted investigation that the First Amendment demands.”

Having been reminded that they can't trample free speech for political gain, Wisconsin Democrats will have to find other ways to do Big Labor's bidding.

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