ACLU Files Suit Against Secret Service

DealMonkey

Lifer
Nov 25, 2001
13,136
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How is it fair that Bush supporters can wave signs and hang all over the president, while protestors are segregated in areas far from the president and away from the cameras? Is this just another attempt to supress any dissent?

FoxNews.com

WASHINGTON ? The American Civil Liberties Union (search) asked the federal courts Tuesday to prevent the U.S. Secret Service (search) from keeping anti-Bush protesters far away from presidential appearances while allowing supporters to display their messages up close.

The civil liberties group filed the lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania on behalf of four advocacy organizations that claimed that the Secret Service forced them into protest zones (search) or other areas where they could not be seen by President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or be noticed by the media covering their visits.

"The pattern we found was at presidential and vice presidential appearances, protesters were restricted to areas where they were out of sight, out of earshot and often out of mind," said Witold J. Walczak, legal director for the ACLU's Greater Pittsburgh chapter.

"Protecting our nation's leaders from harm is important. Protecting our nation's leaders from dissent is unconstitutional."

Said Secret Service spokesman John Gill: "The Secret Service does not comment on pending litigation. However, we have a long-standing policy of recognizing the constitutionally-protected right of the public to demonstrate and voice their views to their elected officials."

The ACLU complaint lists several incidents where protesters were forced to assemble blocks away from where the president or vice president was speaking, while supporters of the administration's policy could hold their signs up in front of the building. They cited examples across the country, including Philadelphia; Columbia, S.C.; Phoenix; Stockton, Calif.; and St. Louis.

The plaintiffs are the National Organization for Women (search); United for Peace and Justice (search), an anti-war group; ACORN (search), an advocacy organization for low and moderate-income families; and USAction (search), an advocacy group that supports universal health care and better public education and opposes the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts.
 

CPA

Elite Member
Nov 19, 2001
30,322
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Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
 

LordJezo

Banned
May 16, 2001
8,140
1
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Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
tru dat.
 

Tripleshot

Elite Member
Jan 29, 2000
7,218
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I hope the ACLU prevail. It is not right that open desent be suppresed no matter who does it. Free speech is a constitutional right, and the ability to patition your government is absolutely your duty as a citizen.
 

lozina

Lifer
Sep 10, 2001
11,707
5
0
Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
And is that right? No!

My support is with the ACLU
 

tnitsuj

Diamond Member
May 22, 2003
5,446
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Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
Actually yes you did. Clinton was constantly being protested by conservative groups, anti free trade groups, anarchists during WTO meetings etc. The free speech zone idea has been around for a while, but it has been heavily applied during the current administration. Thier are precedents in prior administrations. For example, if anyone remembers, in 1997 an anti-abortion group led by Reverend Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition wanted to protest along the parade route for President Clintons inaguration. They were denied a permit by the National Park service, and then went to court. The US district court of appeals for DC ruled unqeuivicollay in thier favor and against the NPS.

"In overruling that judgment, the D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could not have been more blunt: "If the free speech clause of the First Amendment does not protect the right of citizens to 'inject' their own convictions and beliefs into a public event on a public forum, then it is difficult to understand why the Framers bothered including it at all."

The application of crowd control for the stated purpose of 'security' does not seem to be either constitutional or necessary for security.
 

LilBlinbBlahIce

Golden Member
Dec 31, 2001
1,837
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Originally posted by: lozina
Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
And is that right? No!

My support is with the ACLU
Ditto.
 

tk149

Diamond Member
Apr 3, 2002
7,256
1
0
Regardless of what the law is or how it is interpreted, there is a good reason for denying protestors front seats at political speeches. Extremist protestors (on every side) tend to be disruptive. They yell slogans and sometimes have to be carried out screaming. You have a right to express your opinion, but you have no right to force someone else to provide you with publicity, or to disrupt government functions. If the protestors could guarantee "good" behavior, then that would be a different matter, but I really don't see that happening in most circumstances.

So, yes, I disagree with the DC Court of Appeals. I think most of the Fed circuits (and a lot of sane people) do too.
 

lozina

Lifer
Sep 10, 2001
11,707
5
0
Originally posted by: tk149
Regardless of what the law is or how it is interpreted, there is a good reason for denying protestors front seats at political speeches. Extremist protestors (on every side) tend to be disruptive. They yell slogans and sometimes have to be carried out screaming. You have a right to express your opinion, but you have no right to force someone else to provide you with publicity, or to disrupt government functions. If the protestors could guarantee "good" behavior, then that would be a different matter, but I really don't see that happening in most circumstances.

So, yes, I disagree with the DC Court of Appeals. I think most of the Fed circuits (and a lot of sane people) do too.

Could there not be extremely enthusiastic supports who yell disruptive cheers as well? The slight possibility of that occuring should warrant them from being restricted, by your logic
 

DealMonkey

Lifer
Nov 25, 2001
13,136
1
0
Originally posted by: tk149
Regardless of what the law is or how it is interpreted, there is a good reason for denying protestors front seats at political speeches. Extremist protestors (on every side) tend to be disruptive. They yell slogans and sometimes have to be carried out screaming. You have a right to express your opinion, but you have no right to force someone else to provide you with publicity, or to disrupt government functions. If the protestors could guarantee "good" behavior, then that would be a different matter, but I really don't see that happening in most circumstances.

So, yes, I disagree with the DC Court of Appeals. I think most of the Fed circuits (and a lot of sane people) do too.
You're way off base. Nobody said anything about front row seats. We're talking about the right to assemble and protest directly OUTSIDE the building. Instead, protestors are herded into special zones BLOCKS AWAY from the event. IMO this is clearly just another example of supressing dissent by an administration led by the "...there ought to be limits on freedom..." president.
 

tk149

Diamond Member
Apr 3, 2002
7,256
1
0
Originally posted by: lozina
Originally posted by: tk149
Regardless of what the law is or how it is interpreted, there is a good reason for denying protestors front seats at political speeches. Extremist protestors (on every side) tend to be disruptive. They yell slogans and sometimes have to be carried out screaming. You have a right to express your opinion, but you have no right to force someone else to provide you with publicity, or to disrupt government functions. If the protestors could guarantee "good" behavior, then that would be a different matter, but I really don't see that happening in most circumstances.

So, yes, I disagree with the DC Court of Appeals. I think most of the Fed circuits (and a lot of sane people) do too.
Could there not be extremely enthusiastic supports who yell disruptive cheers as well? The slight possibility of that occuring should warrant them from being restricted, by your logic
Your argument is ridiculous. I don't think anyone in history has ever felt there was too much cheering at his/her speech.
 

tk149

Diamond Member
Apr 3, 2002
7,256
1
0
Originally posted by: DealMonkey
Originally posted by: tk149
Regardless of what the law is or how it is interpreted, there is a good reason for denying protestors front seats at political speeches. Extremist protestors (on every side) tend to be disruptive. They yell slogans and sometimes have to be carried out screaming. You have a right to express your opinion, but you have no right to force someone else to provide you with publicity, or to disrupt government functions. If the protestors could guarantee "good" behavior, then that would be a different matter, but I really don't see that happening in most circumstances.

So, yes, I disagree with the DC Court of Appeals. I think most of the Fed circuits (and a lot of sane people) do too.
You're way off base. Nobody said anything about front row seats. We're talking about the right to assemble and protest directly OUTSIDE the building. Instead, protestors are herded into special zones BLOCKS AWAY from the event. IMO this is clearly just another example of supressing dissent by an administration led by the "...there ought to be limits on freedom..." president.
First, safety is an issue. Whether you believe it or not, people get violent at big political events. I guess it's some kind of mob mentality. Segregation by long distance is one of the easiest ways to keep the peace.

Second, what's preventing the protestors from calling the media to their rallies? You argue like there is no alternative to letting protestors in to these events.

Third, regarding your anti-Bush stance, I refer you to CPA's post. Your bias is clear. I note that you completely failed to reply to tnitsuj's statement regarding the attempt to block protestors during Clinton's administration.
 

DealMonkey

Lifer
Nov 25, 2001
13,136
1
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Originally posted by: tk149
First, safety is an issue. Whether you believe it or not, people get violent at big political events. I guess it's some kind of mob mentality. Segregation by long distance is one of the easiest ways to keep the peace.
You guess? So you're willing to stifle our constitutional right to assemble and our freedom of speech on the off chance that something may get violent? That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard. Unless they ACTUALLY ARE getting violent, people have rights to assemble and express themselves.

First amendment buddy: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Second, what's preventing the protestors from calling the media to their rallies? You argue like there is no alternative to letting protestors in to these events.
That's not the point. They should be able to assemble where they wish. Usually that's outside the building where these meetings are taking place. Again, you insinuate that someone's demanding that they be admitted to the actual event. Wrong.

Third, regarding your anti-Bush stance, I refer you to CPA's post. Your bias is clear. I note that you completely failed to reply to tnitsuj's statement regarding the attempt to block protestors during Clinton's administration.
Who cares about Clinton? He's not in office still, is he? Your tactic of deflecting attention away from Bush is very transparent. I care about what's going on right now. I'm perfectly aware that other presidents may have used similar tactics and that does not make it right. Is that all you got? That I don't like Bush? Wow. So insightful.
 

glenn1

Lifer
Sep 6, 2000
25,383
1,013
126
Hmmmm... i don't remember the ACLU thinking this way when they were championing the "bubble zone" prohibiting pro-lifers from doing their thing outside of abortion clinics. Wonder why the change of heart. Either protestors and advocacy groups have the right to choose the site for their free speech or they don't, it doesn't matter if their target audience is the President or a pregnant woman.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Tripleshot
I hope the ACLU prevail. It is not right that open desent be suppresed no matter who does it. Free speech is a constitutional right, and the ability to patition your government is absolutely your duty as a citizen.
The hillary syndrome has spread I see.

Cripes I'm so sick of hearing this spew. It is not your DUTY to petition the gov't - it is just a "right". It isn't a "patriotic duty", nor is is "courageous"(unless asscroft is there;):p) to speak out against the US gov't. The right to speak out against it is guaranteed - so there is no "risk" to be considered courageous for. If speaking out against the gov't was outlawed by the gov't and you spoke out - now THAT would be courageous.

This lawsuit is just plain silly. These people aren't being denied the right to be heard - period.

I could have guarenteed that if I had attended weasel Harkin's steak feed here in DesMoines last week wearing a GWBush teeshirt - I wouldn't have been allowed near where ex-pres Clinton was speaking.;) I really wanted to go - but decided that it wouldn't be appropriate.

CkG
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,872
4,216
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Originally posted by: glenn1
Hmmmm... i don't remember the ACLU thinking this way when they were championing the "bubble zone" prohibiting pro-lifers from doing their thing outside of abortion clinics. Wonder why the change of heart. Either protestors and advocacy groups have the right to choose the site for their free speech or they don't, it doesn't matter if their target audience is the President or a pregnant woman.
I mostly agree, with qualifications.

First, protesters should be allowed near, but not directly harassing people at clinics. Freedom of speech goes so far.

Second protesters should not be whisked away out of sight. Away, yes, but visible, and partly for their safety. I can tell you most assuredly that SS agents do not care about politics or bad press. They have one job, and it is expected that they understand that job can cost them their life. That is to safeguard the president, whoever he is. I can also assure they would shoot anyone perceived as a threat without blinking. There is no need to remove them blocks away though. That is merely a tactic to keep the media from getting both the president and protesters in the same camera frame. Doesn't look good.

As far as the ACLU- They have an agenda. Sometimes I agree with it, and sometimes I do not. I think they have a point here. As long as a reasonable distance is maintained, protesters should be allowed to peacefully demonstrate within sight.
 

DealMonkey

Lifer
Nov 25, 2001
13,136
1
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From the ACLU.org website:

WASHINGTON ? At events attended by President Bush and other senior federal officials around the country, the Secret Service has been discriminating against protesters in violation of their free speech rights, the American Civil Liberties Union charged today in the first nationwide lawsuit of its kind.

?There is nothing more American than raising your voice in protest, and there is nothing more un-American than a government that attempts to hit the mute button when it doesn?t like what it hears,? said Witold Walczak, Legal Director of the ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh and a member of the national ACLU legal team that filed today?s lawsuit.

The ACLU said it had seen a significant spike in such incidents under the Bush Administration, prompting it to charge officials with a ?pattern and practice? of discrimination against those who disagree with government policies.

According to ACLU legal papers, local police, acting at the direction of the Secret Service, violated the rights of protesters in two ways: people expressing views critical of the government were moved further away from public officials while those with pro-government views were allowed to remain closer; or everyone expressing a view was herded into what is commonly known as a ?protest zone,? leaving those who merely observe, but express no view, to remain closer.

Security is not at issue, the ACLU noted, because anyone intent on harming officials would simply carry a sign with a supportive message or no sign at all. ?The individuals we are talking about didn?t pose a security threat; they posed a political threat,? Walczak said.

...

The ACLU?s legal papers listed more than a dozen examples of police censorship at events around the country, saying that all had been initiated at the behest of the Secret Service and that such incidents are on the rise. The incidents described took place in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas and Washington, among other places.

In one example, retired steelworker Bill Neel, 66, was handcuffed and detained by local officials at a rally in western Pennsylvania last year after he refused to be herded into a remote ?designated free speech zone? located behind a six-foot chain-link fence.

?As far as I?m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone,? Neel said. ?If the Bush Administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind. Anyone who calls himself a patriot ought to be as concerned about this as I am.?
 

Vadatajs

Diamond Member
Aug 28, 2001
3,475
0
0
Originally posted by: lozina
Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
And is that right? No!

My support is with the ACLU
Exactly, two wrongs do not make a right. We need to fix this.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Vadatajs
Originally posted by: lozina
Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
And is that right? No!

My support is with the ACLU
Exactly, two wrongs do not make a right. We need to fix this.
So will you and the ACLU support me when I go to the next Dem candidate rally here in DesMoines wearing my G.W.Bush shirt and carrying a bigass sign that says XXXX is a murderer? or Nazi? Or whatever? You think they'll let me anywhere close to the rally? I think not.

I'll count on your support though since now I'm going to go to the next one - just to see:D

CkG
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,872
4,216
126
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
Originally posted by: Vadatajs
Originally posted by: lozina
Originally posted by: CPA
Give it a break, did you ever see demonstrators in Clinton's face? No, because they were ushered off or segregated to the back. geesh, like this is new.
And is that right? No!

My support is with the ACLU
Exactly, two wrongs do not make a right. We need to fix this.
So will you and the ACLU support me when I go to the next Dem candidate rally here in DesMoines wearing my G.W.Bush shirt and carrying a bigass sign that says XXXX is a murderer? or Nazi? Or whatever? You think they'll let me anywhere close to the rally? I think not.

I'll count on your support though since now I'm going to go to the next one - just to see:D

CkG


I'd let you close enough to be seen
 

DealMonkey

Lifer
Nov 25, 2001
13,136
1
0
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
So will you and the ACLU support me when I go to the next Dem candidate rally here in DesMoines wearing my G.W.Bush shirt and carrying a bigass sign that says XXXX is a murderer? or Nazi? Or whatever? You think they'll let me anywhere close to the rally? I think not.

I'll count on your support though since now I'm going to go to the next one - just to see:D

CkG
Absolutely Cad, you have my unconditional support. :) Maybe you should wear your "Rush" cap too, just to be sure everyone knows where you stand ;) You should be able to stand out in front of the building and make your statement, whatever that happens to be. Unless you're being violent or otherwise endangering people's safety.

Report back w/ what happens. Seriously. I'm curious.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: DealMonkey
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
So will you and the ACLU support me when I go to the next Dem candidate rally here in DesMoines wearing my G.W.Bush shirt and carrying a bigass sign that says XXXX is a murderer? or Nazi? Or whatever? You think they'll let me anywhere close to the rally? I think not.

I'll count on your support though since now I'm going to go to the next one - just to see:D

CkG
Absolutely Cad, you have my unconditional support. :) Maybe you should wear your "Rush" cap too, just to be sure everyone knows where you stand ;) You should be able to stand out in front of the building and make your statement, whatever that happens to be. Unless you're being violent or otherwise endangering people's safety.

Report back w/ what happens. Seriously. I'm curious.
Oh, you can be sure I'll be wearing a "Power Tie" :D I think I'll ditch the G.W. t-shirt though. Maybe go with the hat instead unless I can get a button down G.W. Shirt before I go.:D

CkG
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
9,993
1
76
Gee.. I see both sides of this one... but, the elephant in me has this memory... Kent State, The Chicago Convention in '68... The words out of Nixon's mouth (on tape) about the White House protests.. and how to handle them... Kennedy in '63, Kennedy in '68 and "A government of the people and by the people" "... to peacefully assemble", The twin towers, the Pentagon...

There is always going to be risk in the job of President. The SS would prefer the president never leave the security of the White House or Camp David... But, the President needs to be seen being presidential and he don't need visable protests in the same camera shot as him... this distances him from the protest as if they were protesting the inhumane treatment of Gerbils.

I think it is politics under the umbrella of security and a good use of both..
 

Miramonti

Lifer
Aug 26, 2000
28,651
98
91
Banning the protesters to a more 'secure' area is ridiculous.

If any of the Bush haters were to be a real threat to the president, he wouldn't be drawing attention to himself like a banner waiving protester would, he'd blend in.
 

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