[Rushtalk] Fwd: Supremes: Take this First Amendment and shove it!

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at verizon.net
Sat Jun 15 19:48:39 MDT 2013


Judge blasts speech limits at Supreme Court building

But Supremes bash back with new set of 'regulations'

Published: 1 day ago
  <http://www.wnd.com/author/runruh/>Bob Unruh 
About | <mailto:runruh at wnd.com>Email | 
Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three 
decades with the Associated Press, as well as 
several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he 
covered everything from legislative battles and 
sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. 
He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.
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A federal judge has blasted the Supreme Court’s 
plaza policy, which forbids people from being in 
“assemblages” or carrying signs that are intended 
to attract attention, declaring such limits in 
the shadow of the building where the First 
Amendment is supposed to be protected unconstitutional.

With hours, the Supremes bashed back, installing 
a new set of restrictive “regulations” specifying 
what can and cannot happen on the high court property including the plaza.

It was Judge Beryl Howell who wrote in an opinion 
this week that such limits – outlined in federal 
law and based on the “dignity” of the location – 
are unconstitutional and unenforceable.

“The absolute prohibition of expressive activity 
in the statute is unreasonable, substantially 
overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First 
Amendment,” the judge wrote. “The court therefore 
must find the statute unconstitutional and void 
as applied to the Supreme Court plaza.”

Constitutional attorney John 
president of <http://www.rutherford.org>the 
Rutherford Institute, said Howell’s “frank, 
no-holds-barred ruling affirming the Supreme 
Court plaza as a free speech zone throws a 
to the First Amendment at a time when government 
officials are doing their best to censor, silence 
and restrict free speech activities.”

Whitehead, author of “A Government of Wolves: The 
Emerging American Police State,” said there are 
“many things that are repugnant to the 
Constitution right now – mass surveillance of 
Americans, roadside strip searches, forcible DNA 
extractions, SWAT team raids, civil commitments 
for criticizing the government, etc. – but this 
ruling at least sends a message all is not lost 
as long as we still have some members of the 
judiciary who understand and abide by both the 
letter and the spirit of the rule of law, our U.S. Constitution.”

However, the high court posted online an 
announcement that it now is imposing a regulation 
that bans activities on the court’s grounds or 
building such as picketing, speech-making, 
marching, vigils or religious services “that 
involve the communication or expression of views 
or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, 
the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”

The notice said the plan has been approved by the 
marshal and approved by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Whitehead said the new maneuver to restrict 
constitutional rights is being researched.

“We’re going to go after it. We’re going to do 
what we can to challenge it,” he said.

The original case developed over the Jan. 28, 
2011, appearance on the plaza by Harold Hodge. He 
stood quietly and peacefully in the plaza area 
wearing a small sign that proclaimed: “The U.S. 
gov. allows police to illegally murder and 
brutalize African Americans and Hispanic people.”

The Rutherford report said the plaza is a place 
where the public is allowed to gather and 
converse and is, in all relevant respects, like a 
public square or park where citizens have 
traditionally met to express their views on matters of public interest.

But police immediately approached Hodge and told 
him he was breaking the law. When Hodge refused 
to leave, he was arrested, taken to police headquarters and cited.

Later, the charge was dropped because Hodge 
fulfilled an agreement to stay away from the 
building for six months. But he later filed the 
challenge to the constitutionality of the special 
protection for the justices on the Supreme Court.

Rutherford Institute 
argued that absolute prohibition on speech and 
expression on the Supreme Court plaza is 
unreasonable and unnecessary to protect any 
legitimate governmental interest with respect to the court or its proceedings.

See a video report on the case:

Rutherford noted that the message of Hodge’s sign 
was correct, citing statistics that show black 
males are more than one-third of prisoners in 
state and federal lockups, even though they make 
up only 10 percent of the population.

And beyond that, Hodge “has a right to be out there,” he said.

Whitehead said the whole idea of a zone without 
free speech violates the constitutional concept 
of being able to “petition our leaders.”

court opinion says that the concept of limiting 
freedoms through a law advocating for the 
“dignity” of the courthouse was “repugnant.”

The judge said the limit at the Supreme Court was 
based on a similar earlier law that was used to protect the U.S. Capitol.

However, that law already was declared unconstitutional.

“Given that the challenged statute was rooted 
directly in the Capitol Grounds statute, which 
was ruled unconstitutional, and is clearly 
relevant here, the court takes judicial notice of this history.”

The opinion noted that attorneys are allowed to 
hold news conferences there, and court officials 
have approved commercial filming projects on site.

The judge said a decision on whether the location 
is a public forum or not wasn’t needed.

“Even if the court were to conclude that the 
plaza is a nonpublic forum, the absolute ban on 
speech set forth in [the federal law] is not 
reasonable and, thus, the court concludes that 
the ‘justifications for restricting 
 speech’ on 
the Supreme Court plaza simply do not ‘satisfy the requisite standard.”

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