Now this is bizarre. Yesterday, Federal District Court Judge Randa, ordered a halt to the John Doe Investigation of the Walker Recall vote. A diary that has now slipped off the Rec. list detailed the strange ruling, in which Judge Randa stated:
"The (Wisconsin Club for Growth and its treasurer) have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is 'ingrained in our culture,'" Randa wrote, quoting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.As a lawyer, I've never quite seen any decision like that. It appears to open the door for voiding any campaign funding restrictions based on free speech, taking Citizens United and McCutcheon to absurd lengths.
Not only that, but Judge Randa ordered all of the documents in the investigation destroyed! And it may even extend to state cases.
Now, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stepped in and issued a stay of Judge Randa's ruling, at least as to the destruction of evidence.
The panel of three Appeals Court Judges said that destruction would moot any appeal of Judge Randa's decision, because the evidence would have been irretrievably lost.
In addition to being surpassingly strange, this is one of those "law school exam" cases, in which a whole raft of issues are confronted -- campaign finance, the first amendment, the power of a Federal Judge over state courts, the mootness doctrine, on and on.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the Seventh Circuit Order, courtesy of El Bloguero in the comments. One of the panel members who barred Randa is Frank Easterbrook -- hardly a flaming liberal. He is a "Chicago Economics School" former professor, appointed to the bench by Reagan, and last year participated in a celebration of the life of Robert Bork.
Though conservative, Easterbrook is not corrupt, like some below (Randa) and above (You know who.) So it's not like Randa has been slapped down by Justice Sotomayor.