This is a victory for free speech.

To settle a free speech lawsuit, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration agreed Tuesday to pay more than $88,000 in attorneys fees and drop its hard-and-fast requirement that larger groups protesting in the Capitol receive a permit.

The Walker administration faced a federal trial in January over the permitting requirement as part of a lawsuit brought by a protester with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin. Under Tuesday’s agreement, the state Department of Administration would keep its permitting rules in place but also would allow up to five days of demonstrations if protesters simply give the state two days’ notice.

Michael Kissick, the University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor of medical physics and human oncology who brought the lawsuit, said the settlement provided a significant shift in how the state handles demonstrations. Instead of having to ask permission, now protesters can simply provide a heads up, he said.

“If you’re going to have a party, you might give a courtesy call to your neighbor,” he said. “You don’t ask permission….It’s neighborly.”

No word yet on whether Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson still believes protesters in the Capitol should get a permit, but I’ll let you all know if I find out.

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