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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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  •  They already do that (2+ / 0-)
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    Smoh, Villanova Rhodes

    which is why there's often a wait for someone who wants to see the historic displays to get in.

    Having huge additional crowds of protesters would disrupt the ability of citizens to see the historic building and displays that are part of the building. Far fewer tourists could get in if every day there were large numbers of people with protest shirts waiting in line, day after day, to get in, in the hope of having a justice or even a law clerk see their message.    It's a small building.  It doesn't hold a lot of people.  You'd have more people turned away.  

    Protesters have other options.  Those who want to see the building do not.   The purpose of the building is two fold (1) to serve as an office building; and (2) to let people see some of the history and symbolic significance of the Supreme Court.  If you added a third (3) the exercise of First Amendment rights, you'd interfere with the ability of people to do (1) and (2).  There's no reason to interfere with purposes (1) and (2) if there are other nearby options for people to exercise First Amendment rights.  

    That's the same reason why the government can prevent you from using the streets,or a public park, for a protest without a permit.  When a large number of people exercise their First Amendment rights on certain public property (like streets or a public park), you can interfere with the ability of others to use that public property in the way it was INTENDED to be used.  You interfere with the ability of drivers to drive on the street, or with the ability of others to use the park for picnics, or outdoor games, or walking dogs, or whatever the park is intended to provide to the people.  Government can restrict your first amendment rights in a content-neutral way so as to allow others to have use of the public property in the way the property was intended to be used -- as long as you have reasonable alternative options for exercising your first amendment rights.  If you allow protesters (people who are there for the primary purpose of conveying a political message) to flood the SCOTUS building on a regular basis, not only do you interfere with the orderly operations of the office, but you crowd out the people who want to see the building.  Protesters can go right to the sidewalk outside to do their protests; people can't go anywhere else to see the Supreme Court building .

    •  Isn't all this speculation a form (1+ / 0-)
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      JamesGG

      of prior restraint?  Have we actually seen the Supreme Court flooded with protesters day after day to the point that it is impossible for the public to access the building as intended?   Shouldn't we have to demonstrate that there is an actual problem in a specific instance which is interfering with a purpose sufficiently compelling to justify abridging the first amendment before we go ahead and do so?

      By the way, this discussion brings up the separate but somewhat related problem of what comprises "reasonable alternative options for exercising your first amendment rights."  That's something that is very much under fire with the creation of "national special security events" and their associated "free speech zones" situated far out of sight and hearing.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 12:05:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This isn't prior restraint at all. (4+ / 0-)
        Isn't all this speculation a form of prior restraint?  Have we actually seen the Supreme Court flooded with protesters day after day to the point that it is impossible for the public to access the building as intended?Shouldn't we have to demonstrate that there is an actual problem in a specific instance which is interfering with a purpose sufficiently compelling to justify abridging the first amendment before we go ahead and do so?
        I'd wager most courtrooms in this country haven't themselves been the sites for situations in which people engaging in acts which would have been protected political speech outside the courtroom have created a disruption by doing so inside the courtroom—and yet they all have rules against such things.

        That's because this really isn't a prior restraint issue. Prior restraint is when the government restricts something from being spoken at all without an extremely compelling reason for doing so. Time, place, and manner restrictions have never been considered prior restraint, nor have they ever been required to clear the same high legal bar as prior restraint.

        If this situation were one of prior restraint, this guy would have been told he couldn't wear that jacket anywhere; as the situation actually was, he could have gone just outside on to the building's steps and worn that jacket to his heart's content without anyone being on firm legal ground in telling him to remove it.

        "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 12:31:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You need to do a little more looking at (4+ / 0-)
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        Smoh, Catte Nappe, Villanova Rhodes, VClib

        time, place and manner restrictions.  That's what you are talking about.  As JamesGG points out, this is not "prior restraint"  -- that means you can't say it (or publish it) at all, anywhere.  

        As far as alternatives for exercising the First Amendment, yes there certainly are issues when the "free speech zones are blocks -- or even miles -- away from the event being protested.  But there's no argument that the sidewalk outside of the SCOTUS building -- which the Justices can see from their windows -- is not a reasonable alternative.  

        You don't have a First Amendment right to "speak" (orally, or through visuals) anywhere, and any time, you want.  Government can't ban from EVER speaking (at any time or any place), but it can place "time, place, and manner restrictions" on speech, saying, for example, you can't have a protest gathering of 50 people in a park in the residential neighborhood where Justice Scalia lives at 2 in the morning.  They can say, you can't go past  Senator Schumer's receptionist into his office whenever you want to exercise your free speech right to tell him what you think of legislation. They can say, you can't stand in the middle of the freeway at rush hour to exercise your free speech rights.  They can say you can't have any political t-shirts or signs within so many feet of a polling place.  You may not AGREE with the time, place, and manner restrictions.  But as long as they are related to some kind of legitimate government interest (and keeping order for others, or keeping a facility available for others, or letting others exercise their rights without being interrupted by protesters is a legitimate government interest), are content-neutral, and give you some reasonable (not necessarily perfect in your view, but reasonable) alternatives, such restrictions are constitutional.  

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