Preserving Democracy Project

Our Constitution establishes the separation of powers to strengthen liberty and serve as a protection against government abuse. They are essential facets of our democracy.

Yet both are under attack by unelected bureaucrats and rogue government officials who have claimed for themselves more power and control than the people ever gave to them. As these power grabs become more and more frequent and the administrative state grows, it is more important than ever that everyday Americans fight back. The Preserving Democracy project at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is the vanguard in that fight.

We fight to enforce structural limitations on government power.

We hold bureaucrats to the rule of law. Rogue government officials at the local, state and federal level who act beyond the authority given to them must be reined in. The Preserving Democracy project stands at the forefront of that fight, litigating cases in state and federal court to ensure that government officials act within their lawful authority.

WILL’s Preserving Democracy Project has a long track record of successes in state and federal courts both here in Wisconsin and nationwide.

Open Cases

White v. Village of Sister Bay

WILL and Attorney Bjorn Johnson have filed a lawsuit against the Village of Sister Bay on behalf of their clients Captains Cottage LLC, a short-term rental in the Village for unlawfully refusing to issue Captains Cottage a permit to rent the property.

Farmview v. DOR

WILL has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) on behalf of two Wisconsin Wedding Barns. The lawsuit is seeking to mitigate the harmful impacts of Wisconsin Act 73, which became law in late 2023 and fully takes effect in 2026.

IRG v. Godlewski

WILL and IRG demand that the Secretary of State, Sarah Godlewski, fulfill a records request that has been pending for almost six months relating to the unusual circumstances surrounding her appointment.

Abbotsford Education Association v. WERC

WILL has filed a motion to intervene in defense of Act 10—a monumental collective bargaining reform that impacts the freedom and compelled political participation of our client, a public-school employee.

NAGR, TGR v. ATF

The lawsuit argues that a new ATF rule, which became effective on June 1, 2023, usurps Congressional authority by significantly expanding the definition of “rifle” under federal law, imposing potential criminal liability on millions of Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights. This lawsuit comes on the heels of WILL’s victory last week, when a federal judge granted WILL’s motion for preliminary injunction against the same rule on behalf of military veterans in Texas and Wisconsin. 

STAR NEWS DIGITAL MEDIA et al. v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

WILL filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for withholding Nashville shooter Audrey Hale’s manifesto. WILL’s lawsuit was filed in Nashville, Tennessee, on behalf of our client, The Star News Network, its Editor-in-Chief, and a reporter—which filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting the manifesto.

Concluded Cases

Brown v. Wisconsin Elections Commission

Wisconsin State Law (Wis. Stat. § 6.855) provides that the office of the municipal clerk is the default location “to which voted absentee ballots shall be returned by electors for any election.” But there may be circumstances when the clerk’s office is unavailable for early, in person absentee voting.

Braun v. Wisconsin Elections Commission

A registered Wisconsin voter and taxpayer sues the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) in regards to the illegal use of the National Mail Voter Registration Form ("the Form"). The lawsuit, filed in the Waukesha County Circuit Court, urges the court to declare that the use of this voter registration form in Wisconsin is illegal and orders WEC to withdraw its approval of the Form. The Form adds extra criteria not authorized by statute or rule while simultaneously failing to include all items mandated by Wisconsin statute (Wis. Stat. § 6.33(1)).

WILL & Buchman v. ECASD

A local parent, along with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), have filed a complaint with a judge in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, after the school refused to provide a copy of a statement that the district acknowledges was read aloud to students in several classrooms.

WPT v. Town of Buchanan

WILL filed a lawsuit against the Town of Buchanan, in Outagamie County, after the municipality adopted and implemented a “transportation utility fee” that violates state law and circumvents strict levy limits.

Policy Work

Through the Preserving Democracy project we will continue to use all tools available to hold government officials accountable to the law.

The Preserving Democracy project will also include a robust public education component. Our liberties are secure and will endure only insofar as Americans value and uphold the principles and institutions that preserve them. Our “Citizens Guide to the Wisconsin Administrative State” was the start of this effort, We plan to continue and increase our efforts to inform and educate citizens about why our government is structured as it is and how the rule of law protects them.

Our work is not limited to just litigation. We have successfully overturned unlawful agency action by working through legislative oversight committees (such as when Wisconsin tried to put the pool-share company Swimply out of business), and regularly send demand letters to officials at all levels of government to ensure that they act within the law. Our policy team also works closely with our attorneys to produce timely research and advocate for opportunities to strengthen the separation of powers.