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USA: Hyperlink, death threats and violation of the First Amendment

A complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin says that the First Amendment permitted plaintiff, Ms. Reisinger, to include on her personal web site a link to the Sheboygan Police Department and that the city's insistance that she remove it was unconstitutional.

The case is quite curious:

Ms. Reisinger was involved in the creation of a web site devoted to recall efforts of Mayor Perez. The mayor noticed that Mr. Reisinger - on her own business homepage - had a link to the City of Sheboygan Police Department. He asked the City Attorney if the link was permissible. The attorney answered that anyone can create a link to someone else's website very easily without the knowledge or consent of the linked party. Nethertheless the assistent to the mayor, indicated the mayor wanted the attorney to issue a cease and desist letter regarding the link. So Ms. Reisinger received such a notice and severed the link. She found the request very silly, but said she wanted to follow the "wish". But then the story really started: The police began an official investigation relative to the linking. Other web sites and blogs started ridiculing Ms. Reisinger. She now retained counsel. As a result the City of Sheboygan indicated that they wanted her to continue to use the link to the Police Department. But now it was too late. Ms Reisinger had already received death threats (she had to install video cameras at home...) and suffered a significant decrease in income. She now sues for compensatory damages in sum of 250.000 dollar and punitive damages.

Reisinger v. Perez, E.D. Wis, No 08-cv-00708, complaint filed 8/20/08





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