Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free Speech Against The Law At Supreme Court

Free Speech Against The Law At Supreme Court
A  little known 1949 federal law, rarely enforced, says: “It is unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”

By de Andréa
June 16, 2013

Did you even know that since 1949 American citizens could not legally exercise their Constitutional right of free speech any ware near the court that is supposed to protect FREE SPEECH?  I didn’t…

This all came to light when Harold Hodge stood quietly and peacefully in the Supreme Court plaza area wearing a sign that proclaimed “The U.S. gov allows police to illegally murder and brutalize African Americans and Hispanic people.”  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.

It is interesting that the plaza was originally (when we had a constitution) a place where the public had a right to gather and converse, and is in all relevant respects, like a public square or park where citizens have traditionally and historically met to express their views on matters of public interest.

In addition, political speech was the driving force behind the First Amendment in the first place, now it’s the driving force behind the attack on the right.

So why haven’t we heard of this law since 1949?  Because it was rarely enforced, it has always been a place where reporters gathered in reference to an issue being ruled on in the court, people carried signs, interested parties assembled etc.  But this is 2013, and this is the Obama Regime, and Harold Hodge is black, and he is speaking out against government atrocities, and we simply can’t allow that.  

Well…a federal District judge has blasted the Supreme Court’s plaza law, as unconstitutional.  The law 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.

The Supreme Court makes law
Within hours…the Supreme Court blasted back, installing a ‘new’ set of restrictive “regulations”/laws (actually illegally making, or adding to the existing law) specifying what can and cannot happen on the high court property including the plaza.

It was Judge Beryl Howell, District court judge for the District of Columbia, who wrote in an opinion this week that such limits – outlined in the federal law and based on the “dignity” of the location – are unconstitutional and unenforceable.  “The absolute prohibition of expressive activity in the federal statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First Amendment, the judge wrote.  “The court therefore must find the statute unconstitutional and therefore void as applied to the Supreme Court plaza.”

Constitutional attorney John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, said Howell’s “frank, no-holds-barred ruling affirming the Supreme Court plaza as a free speech zone throws a lifeline 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 and the rule of law, our U.S. Constitution.”

However, the Supreme Court posted online a ‘new illegal law’ that 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 law has been approved by the marshal and approved by Chief Justice John Roberts.  But…my friend, it wasn’t passed by congress or signed by the president…oh well!  I guess we don’t need the congress any more.

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.

Detail and Recap
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 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 made an agreement to stay away from the building for six months. But he later filed the challenge to the constitutionality of law.

Rutherford Institute attorneys 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.

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.”

The District 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, the Capital law already was declared unconstitutional
“Given that the challenged statute was rooted directly in the Capitol Grounds statute, which was already challenged and 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.”

THE BOTTOM LINE:  It appears that American citizens are hanging on by their fingernails to the last bits and pieces of the U.S. Constitution.  I can predict with historical assurance that if the first two constitutional amendments are lost, the entire constitution will be lost with it.  All of our freedom and liberty will be nothing but a memory and the documented history of it will even be gone.   

"But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.  It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.”  -- Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837

Thanks for listening – de Andréa

Copyright © 2013 by Bottom Line Publishing -  Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

1 comment:

xenonman said...

I suspect that this is akin to other archaic aspects of court decorum, which are still observed, such as the requirement that hats not be worn and standing up when a judge enters!