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View Diary: Man Wearing 'Occupy Everything' Jacket Arrested At First Amendment-Free Zone In SCOTUS Building (222 comments)

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  •  I think I now understand what the confusion is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, Catte Nappe, Smoh, Villanova Rhodes

    You and others here are reacting as though the action was taken against the particular message on the shirt. It wasn't. The dress code is content neutral, as it needs to be under the First Amendment.

    Try going into the Supreme Court with a shirt that reads "Power to the 1 percent!" or "The Rich are Over Taxed!" "All Hail Ayn Rand!" or whatever other similar message you can conjecture.  You'll get arrested just as readily with that shirt if you refuse to either cover it up or leave.

    •  I understood that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamesGG

      Does it not occur to you as a bit odd that the SCOTUS declared the entire building a "free speech free" zone?

      I understand that signs, placards, chanting, etc, would be disruptive, but clothing? Worse, clothing with no other signs of "assembly".

      What if I wore a T-Shirt that simply said "Life" on it? How big can the font be, who decides?

      When does an inactive message become speech that is proscribed?

      These are matters that should be given some sunlight.

      Why does the Justice Department think it can respond by suggesting that they could have thrown the book at this guy? What is in the book, and who wrote it?

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 10:56:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So imagine the alternative. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, Smoh, Villanova Rhodes

        Imagine if they did allow clothing with messaging on political or social issues—and no other signs, chants, etc.—within the Supreme Court building.

        There isn't an ounce of doubt in my mind that the day after that policy change was announced, the Supreme Court building would be filled with as many people as they allowed in, and that 90% of them would be wearing some kind of anti-abortion messaging, whether a picture of a dead fetus or a giant "Choose Life" t-shirt like the members of Wham! used to wear.

        And that would make the historical exhibits and the hall itself (when the court isn't in session)—which, to my mind, are valuable things for tourists to see, given that they illustrate our nation's history and our important civic and governmental institutions—all but inaccessible to the general public.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 11:35:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe, maybe not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JamesGG

          because those people would clearly be assembling with a common cause.

          All I am saying here is that speech should always trend towards "free", unless there are specific cases where demonstrable harm might be caused.

          I think that in this case they went too far, and that the DoJ response was atrocious. We should worry about that however trivial the apparent incident simply because the whole reason the constitution was written was because the Founders recognised that a government of men will have an unhealthy tendency to drift towards authoritarian.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 12:04:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree that the DoJ response was atrocious. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe, Smoh, twigg

            I think the appropriate response would have been for the Capitol Police to escort him from the building and tell him he couldn't reenter until he did so with that jacket removed, inside out, or covered up.

            At worst, if he caused a disturbance in being removed or refused to leave, I'd say just give him a $50 fine and bar him from reentering.

            The DoJ's "you're lucky you didn't get more" seems to me an unnecessary provocation and an extreme overreaction.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 12:35:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What's atrocious about dropping the charge? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              twigg

              The DOJ didn't pursue the charge against him. They're responding to his claim that he wants a million bucks. All they're saying is he could have been charged under the Display Clause -- which is clearly true from the facts described here -- but wasn't (implied: "so STFU"). It appears to be buttressing their defense of the officers' probable cause.

              The DOJ wasn't involved in the arrest -- it was the SCOTUS police, who do this every day of the week. And yeah, they've got a lot of experience with the anti-abortion folks and want no part of expanding their access. My guess is they were bemused by Occupy, but not particularly concerned. Even on that vaunted Nationwide Day of Action, Occupy only managed to scrape up a couple of dozen protesters, but the "life" crowd can and would deliver all the bodies they were allowed to cram in, for as long as allowed, and disrupting as much as allowed. They've got decades on Occupy, and the SCOTUS cops aren't going to risk upsetting that balance by giving another group a pass.

      •  Consider (0+ / 0-)

        if you take the position that words printed on a shirt are not speech within the meaning of the First Amendment, then you also open the door to criminalizing wearing a shirt with the message "Fuck the Draft""

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        We don't want that, do we?

        The chambers of the Supreme Court are not a public forum. The banning of speech there is a reasonable "time, place and manner" restriction of First Amendment rights. No right is absolute.

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