Skip to comments.Can the Secret Service Tell You To Shut Up?
Posted on 03/16/2012 5:35:04 AM PDT by Kaslin
The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from infringing upon the freedom of speech, the freedom of association and the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Speech is language and other forms of expression; and association and petition connote physical presence in reasonable proximity to those of like mind and to government officials, so as to make your opinions known to them.
The Declaration of Independence recognizes all three freedoms as stemming from our humanity. So, what happens if you can speak freely, but the government officials at whom your speech is aimed refuse to hear you? And what happens if your right to associate and to petition the government is confined to areas where those of like mind and the government are not present? This is coming to a street corner near you.
Certain rights, like thought and privacy and travel, can be exercised on their own. You don't need the government to cooperate with you; you just need to be left alone. Other rights, like those intended to influence the political process, require that the government not resist your exercise of them. Remember the old one-liner from Philosophy 101: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there, does it make any noise? Here's the contemporary version of that: If you can criticize the government, but it refuses to hear you, does your exercise of the freedom of speech have any value?
When the Framers of the Constitution wrote the First Amendment, they lived in a society in which anyone could walk up to George Washington or John Adams or Thomas Jefferson on a public street and say directly to them whatever one wished. They never dreamed of a regal-like force of armed agents keeping public officials away from the public, as we have today. And they never imagined that it could be a felony for anyone to congregate in public within earshot or eyesight of certain government officials. And yet, today in America, it is.
Last week, President Obama signed into law the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. This law permits Secret Service agents to designate any place they wish as a place where free speech, association and petition of the government are prohibited. And it permits the Secret Service to make these determinations based on the content of speech.
Thus, federal agents whose work is to protect public officials and their friends may prohibit the speech and the gatherings of folks who disagree with those officials or permit the speech and the gatherings of those who would praise them, even though the First Amendment condemns content-based speech discrimination by the government. The new law also provides that anyone who gathers in a "restricted" area may be prosecuted. And because the statute does not require the government to prove intent, a person accidentally in a restricted area can be charged and prosecuted, as well.
Permitting people to express publicly their opinions to the president only at a time and in a place and manner such that he cannot hear them violates the First Amendment because it guarantees the right to useful speech; and unheard political speech is politically useless. The same may be said of the rights to associate and to petition. If peaceful public assembly and public expression of political demands on the government can be restricted to places where government officials cannot be confronted, then those rights, too, have been neutered.
Political speech is in the highest category of protected speech. This is not about drowning out the president in the Oval Office. This is about letting him know what we think of his work when he leaves the White House. This is speech intended to influence the political process.
This abominable legislation enjoyed overwhelming support from both political parties in Congress because the establishment loves power, fears dissent and hates inconvenience, and it doesn't give a damn about the Constitution. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and only three members of the House voted against it. And the president signed it in secret. It is more typical of contemporary China than America. It is more George III than George Washington.
The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to assure open, wide, robust, uninhibited political debate, debate that can be seen and heard by those it seeks to challenge and influence, whether it is convenient for them or not. Anything short of that turns the First Amendment into a mirage.
They can TELL me whatever they want to tell me. Will it happen or not is another story!
Now that will certainly go to court as I am sure someone is going to test it.
Would that be the same court which ruled in favor of both Campaign Finance Reform and Eminent Domain?
The Secret Service can do whatever it damned well pleases and there’s not a thing we can do about it.
Could that be a big place, you know, like the whole country?
Telling a S.S. agent “F.U.”, in the long run, cannot be construed as a refusal to obey a lawful order...
They might not like the term, and you might take a ride challenging it, but they are hoping enough sheeple comply and not cause any problems...
I can guarantee you that no democrat will understand, much less be throttled for breaking this law...
Somehow you’d think SCOTUS would step in and take care of this fantasy for the Administration, but when you got only 4 that would side on the BOR’s and the Constitution, this will never see the light of day in that chamber...
Actually there is...It depenbds on what you are prepared to do about it, and what you are willing to sacrifice for it...
Be careful what you say here, FRiend.
lemme see...wasn’t their a previous incarnation of an SS with such authority? .....Europe ...Germany....70 years ago....
Enforcement of this law will be the problem. I’m pretty sure law enforcement will not be willing to enforce it the way the lawmakers envision. Just as surely the law will be tested; Americans are not accustomed to being silenced, on either side of the political divide.
This fiasco has backfire written all over it. It’s an invitation to break the law, and makes it more likely, not less, that chaos and riot could ensue from benign and peaceful gatherings.
Come on they will just be “following orders” from das fuhrer and “fearless Reader”. You all remember how well that worked out the last time.
And NO, we cannot count on the USSC to issue a brilliant decision based solely upon the US Constitution as they have shown themselves to be NOTHING but political hacks with their endless stream of 5-4 decisions.
The USSC judges must have all gone to public school hence the inability to agree on the meaning of a rather short document describing the limits of government and the supremacy of citizens over that government. It takes a lawyer to screw things up this bad.
A computer, with a download of the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and the Federalist papers would do a much better job of making Constitutionally based decisions than these black robed traitors to all of us. If these morons cannot agree on our most basic founding document then how in the hell are we as average citizens (aka honest non-lawyers) supposed to know what the hundreds of thousands of pages of obscure legal hieroglyphs mean?
If 4 of the USSC judges cannot figure out the constitutionality of a law then, IMO, ignorance of the law is a very valid excuse.
Napolitano is right.
Coming from a Commissar near you.
Keeping the barrel clean.
Free speech does not mean the government is obligated to provide you a venue nor an audience. It can be argued that what many view as free speech today is a product of “evolving constitutional standards”. Something we conservatives don’t generally like.
It’s difficult to believe that free speech is not mostly about protesting, but rather mostly about advocacy, the former is about abusing decorum to gain quick notoriety while the latter adheres to decorum for civil discourse.
In any course, I don’t know if the law being talked about is good bad or indifferent with regards to free speech. I do think that such laws come about because somebody was abusing the process and probably gaining traction against the opposition.
It’s likely the new laws will be used more to stifle somber and deliberate conservatives, only to be called into question when used versus hysterically radical leftists.
The elite want to turn the USA into a concentration camp of isolated colonies with the only news being state propaganda with an immobile society for all except the elite. They will dictate the collective gene pools of each colony to achieve the desired effect. When one becomes ill, they become disposable. There will be no religion as we know it. This could all happen if the people remain stupid. The government needs to be declawed.
“I can guarantee you that no democrat will understand, much less be throttled for breaking this law...”
But wasn’t that the point of hussein signing this into law? Democrats will be given as much free speech as they want, but conservatives will be tossed in the brink and there won’t be a darn thng done about that.