MacIver Institute v. Evers

A free and fair society depends on transparency, and that includes a free press who receives equal access to generally available information.

Bill Osmulski is a seasoned Capitol news reporter for the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and news service based in Madison, Wisconsin.

As credentialed members of the Capitol press corps, Osmulski and other MacIver News Service reporters regularly have access to state legislators and other Capitol officials. However, once Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers took office in 2019, their media access became limited.

In January 2019, Osmulski and a former MacIver colleague, Matt Kittle, asked the Governor’s Office to add them to their media distribution list. The reporters soon realized something was amiss when they did not receive a response nor a single media advisory.

As a result of this exclusion over the past seven months, it has been practically impossible for the MacIver journalists to attend the vast majority of the Governor’s public events and press conferences. For example, on February 28, 2019, Osmulski and Kittle were denied access to the Governor’s “budget briefing for the media,” which was open to 26 other members of the Capitol press corps.

The MacIver Institute and Mr. Osmulski allege that the Governor’s targeted exclusion of MacIver journalists amounts to viewpoint discrimination and is a violation of the right of equal access fundamental to freedom of the press. Additionally, the Equal Protection Clause requires that a state government grant equal treatment to its citizens. In this context, it requires that all journalists have equal access to information generally available to the news media.

Now, attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center are representing the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy and Mr. Osmulski in a lawsuit to assert their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press, as well as their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws.


Jeffrey Schwab

Jeffrey M. Schwab

Jeffrey M. Schwab is a Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, where he litigates cases to protect the rights to free speech, economic liberty, private property and other Constitutional rights in both federal and state courts across the country.

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Case In The News

Courthouse News
October 30, 2020

(Courthouse News)—Wisconsin’s governor is unfairly barring a conservative think tank’s journalists from attending press events because of the group’s political views, its attorney argued in the Seventh Circuit on Friday. The Madison-based John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, which refers to itself as “the free market voice of Wisconsin,”...

Wisconsin Public Radio
October 30, 2020

(Wisconsin Public Radio)—In a hearing Friday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, a conservative think tank argued the Evers administration violated the First Amendment by denying the group access to a press briefing and to the administration’s media advisory list. The MacIver Institute for Public Policy,...

The Daily Signal
August 27, 2019

(The Daily Signal)—When two reporters showed up at the Wisconsin governor’s office in February for a press briefing on the new administration’s proposed budget, staffers turned them away. Although the governor’s office didn’t formally invite the reporters, they were credentialed through the Wisconsin Legislature to cover government activities. They also...

Fox News
August 8, 2019

(Fox News)—A conservative think tank in Wisconsin is suing the state’s governor, Tony Evers, amid allegations that his administration has denied journalists working for the group’s new service access to a budget press briefing and refused to add its reporters to the governor’s press list. The Maclver Institute, a right-leaning...

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 7, 2019

(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)—A conservative group alleges Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has violated its writers’ rights to free speech and equal access by not notifying them about the governor’s public appearances or inviting them to media events. The Madison-based John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, which has a news service...

The Cap Times
August 7, 2019

(The Cap Times)—The conservative Maclver Institute has filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, alleging his office has excluded the outlet from media events. The suit, filed in federal court Tuesday, argues the actions are a violation of their reporters’ First Amendment rights guaranteeing press freedom and free speech,...

Case Documents

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MacIver Institute v. Evers


August 6, 2019


U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin




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