Timeline of Victories

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2011
  • Rick Esenberg, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, founds WILL to take the battle for freedom to the courts. Our firm’s first original action against the Government Accountability Board is litigated, as well as several amicus briefs justifying the voter I.D. law and in support of Act 10. We filed a petition with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission asking that the City of Milwaukee, instead of WE Energy customers, pay to move the utilities necessary for the streetcar project – we would prevail in 2014.
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2012
  • We are on the winning side in defending historic Act 10 public employee union reforms. We filed our first free speech case, Vanden Boogart, et al. v. Christensen, et al., which resulted in a favorable settlement for our client. Our first religious freedom case, Jerusalem Empowered African Methodist Episcopal Church (JEAMAC) v. City of Milwaukee, is also filed. 

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2013
  • We triumph in JEAMAC v. Milwaukee. In support of Act 10, we sue local governments who choose to defy it and file an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Our new policy research team issues its first public report, “Vacant Schools.” Krueger v. Appleton School District is filed and goes all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 2017, the justices ruled unanimously in favor of our client stating that the District had violated the open meetings law. 

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2014
  • We fought back against a free speech assault on conservatives by rogue prosecutors in the so-called John Doe investigation. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds Act 10. We file Milewski v. Town of Dover, concerning the right to privacy in one’s own home. We prevail in Young v. Government Accountability Board, a federal case that challenged Wisconsin’s aggregate campaign contribution limits. 

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2015
  • We assisted in John Doe litigation by filing an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and increased litigation throughout the state. Our policy team expanded their reports on school choice and other key Wisconsin reforms. In LaCroix v. Kenosha Unified District, the circuit court judge ruled in our client’s favor – that the school district’s contract was void due to violation of Act 10. 

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2016
  • We file the infamous McAdams v. Marquette case. Our client, a tenured, conservative professor for over 30 years was terminated by the university over his blog post. It would prove to be a long, protracted battle. We continued defending WI’s Right to Work Law. Our policy team releases “Fencing Out Opportunity,” the first in a series regarding occupational licensing issues in Wisconsin.

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2017
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court decides in our clients’ favor in Milewski v. Town of DoverThe Court ruled that statutes stripping owners of appeal rights, if they refuse to consent to an interior search of their home, are unconstitutional. WILL issues “Apples to Apples” report on school choice and wins cases in the Wisconsin Supreme Court on behalf of property owners and parents. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds Right to Work. 

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2018
  • A hard fought victory is earned for Professor McAdams as the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Marquette breached his contract in censoring him. We file new lawsuits supporting academic freedom, school choice, and economic liberty, most notably, the “wedding barn case.” Our policy team releases two reports on the opioid crisis and the resulting strains on Wisconsin’s foster care system. 

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2019
  • Another win for free speech in Polly Olsen v. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, where our client was silenced by the college for handing out religious-themed Valentines. In Koschkee v. Taylor, we win again before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, establishing that educational policy in the state of Wisconsin is made by the legislature and not by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. We file the “voter roll” case, Zignego v. Wisconsin Election Commission, in an effort to clean up Wisconsin’s voter rolls. Our policy team releases “The Impact of Medicaid Expansion,” arming the Wisconsin legislature with much-needed research to protect citizens from expanded government control of the healthcare sector. 

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2020
  • We celebrate our first grant of certiorari at the United States Supreme Court in another religious liberty lawsuit, St. Augustine School v. Evers, as the court remands the case based on another SCOTUS decision where we were also instrumental by filing an amicus brief supporting the winning side (Espinoza v. Montana). We prevail in the state Supreme Court in Bartlett v. Evers, overturning certain of Governor Evers’ vetoes, ending the abusive veto that allowed governors to rewrite laws passed as part of the budget. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we filed an amicus brief bolstering the legislature’s claim that the Governor’s ability to issue “stay-at-home” orders without the state’s legislative approval is unlawful. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the illegal orders be overturned. In yet another case against the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, we secure a victory for choice schools to use virtual learning in the same manner as public schools. This became vitally important during the shutdown. We release our “Wisconsin Speech Code Review” which details the speech-restrictive policies in our Wisconsin colleges.

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2021
  • Johnson v. WEC: The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion in our redistricting case that adopts criteria for the redistricting process. The decision from the Court adopts WILL’s proposal that the Court not consider political partisanship when approving new legislative districts, and will seek to make the “least changes” from the current maps.
  • Vitolo v. Guzman: WILL obtained preliminary injunction against the Biden administration before the Sixth Circuit (Tennessee), halting a 29 billion-dollar federal COVID relief program that distributed benefits on the basis of race and sex. We secured the first preliminary injunction in the country!
  • Faust v. Vilsack: In our most notable “farmer case,” U.S. District Griesbach issued a temporary restraining order halting payments in a federal farmer loan forgiveness program that allocates benefits on the basis of racial categories. WILL represented 12 farmers from multiple states, all of who would be eligible for the federal loan forgiveness program, but for their race.
  • WCRIS v. Heinrich: The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Dane County’s public health director’s order closing private schools to in-person instruction for certain grades was illegal. This was our sixth win in the High Court in only a decade.
  • Cohoon v. Konrath: The Court ruled that a deputy sheriff violated our client’s First Amendment rights by demanding that she remove a COVID-19 related social media post.
  • Hunter Nation v. DNR: A win for hunters and the Rule of Law! In the “wolf case,” the Judge issued a decision that the (DNR) decision to not immediately establish a hunting and trapping season for wolves in 2021 violated state statute and the state constitutional right to hunt.
  • WILL provided over 60 instances of free legal support and services to schools and school choice allies throughout 2021.
  • WILL completed its largest policy project to date, an 11-month review of the 2020 election. As part of the review, we produced actionable reforms for the legislature to adopt.