Madison – A Dane County Circuit Court judge this morning issued a temporary injunction against the Department of Administration ordering that the Capitol building be opened to the public.
Judge Daniel Moeser issued the order at 10 a.m. as a growing crowd of protesters were being held back from the doors of the statehouse by a line of police officers.
The Capitol had been open around the clock to members of the public, most of them protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, since Feb. 15. But on Sunday, the DOA announced that the building would close at 4 p.m.
The Capitol remained closed to the public Monday, and shortened hours were announced today. But the injunction says that the administration “shall open the Wisconsin Capitol to members of the public during business hours and at times when governmental matters, such as hearings, listening sessions and court arguments are being conducted.”
Democratic legislators and protesters were demanding that the doors be opened to all without restrictions as security checks remained in place as of 11:30 a.m.
“We applaud Judge Moeser for ensuring that clean, open government is upheld,” state Rep. Peter Barca said in a statement. “People must have the freedom to visit their Capitol and petition their government. It is their Constitutional right. The fight to restore freedom in Wisconsin continues.”
The Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the administration, is challenging the restraining order, and a hearing is set for 2:15 p.m. today before Circuit Judge John Albert.
If the order stands, the Capitol would have to remain open not only for the governor's budget address at 4 p.m. but for an open meeting of the Joint Finance Committe, which is required to meet after the budget is introduced.