Schimel: Private Event In Public Space Needs Alcohol License

Conservative Law Firm Calls Opinion An 'Extreme Interpretation' That Threatens Wedding Barns


Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says private events in public spaces need liquor licenses.

Schimel quietly issued an informal opinion Nov. 16 at the request of state Rep. Rob Swearingen, a member of the Assembly tourism committee.

Swearingen asked Schimel to interpret statutes that prohibit owners of public places from allowing alcohol without a license. The statutes don’t define public places.

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Schimel wrote there’s no distinction between a public place that hosts an event open to everyone and a public place that can be rented out for a limited private event.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative law firm, issued a news release Monday calling the opinion an “extreme interpretation” that threatens wedding barns. The firm says an event on private property clearly isn’t a public place.