Government Asserts Free Speech Exclusion Zones are Outside the First Amendment’s Protections
Monday, November 14 — Join the PCJF in Court in Washington, D.C.
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition v. W Ralph Basham, et al. (Case No. 16-5047)
November 14, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
333 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001
Trump is elected and Free Speech rights are already at stake starting Day 1 – Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017.
We are going to court on Monday. We know that you share our sense of urgency and we are counting on you and others to support this fight.
The government has announced that on Inauguration Day space alongside the Pennsylvania Avenue inaugural parade route including Freedom Plaza and the area in front of the Trump Hotel will be free speech exclusion zones reserved for Trump supporters and funders.
On Monday morning, November 14th, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the PCJF will defend the First Amendment rights of the people.
In an unprecedented court filing, the U.S. Government and its Justice Department argue that the government may take the public parklands, sidewalks and streets of America at the central moment of their use by the people for assembly, speech and debate, and petitioning of the government and redesignate our public spaces into exclusive “government speech” or No Free Speech Zones. There is no limitation to the scope of these zones.
The government has argued in its brief to the Court that with respect to these exclusion zones “the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is not implicated” – that Free Speech rights under the First Amendment do not apply to demonstrations on public space if the government chooses to support a pro-government or favored viewpoint instead.
This is a new constitutional doctrine — carving a massive hole into the First Amendment — that the Justice Department is for the very first time in history arguing exists.
You can imagine what this means for democracy in America.
If the government wins court approval of this radical evisceration of First Amendment rights, you can expect that President Trump (or any mayor or governor) will be able to prevent or displace protest on public space at will simply by declaring that public forums like our sidewalks and parks are reserved for private organizations espousing a pro-government viewpoint. If they can do it on Pennsylvania Avenue, “America’s Main Street,” on Inauguration Day, they will do it everywhere they wish.
At Monday’s hearing, the PCJF will demand that Freedom Plaza — so named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership of a civil rights movement that spoke truth to power and which so profoundly benefited our society — be made available to dissent, and that the buffer zone around Trump Hotel reserved for Trump supporters be disallowed.
The extreme danger posed to the Bill of Rights and the right to protest by the actions of the government cannot be overstated.
The PCJF has fought for the right to protest along the Inaugural route for 16 years regardless of administration. This case alone has been litigated since 2005.
As people come to Washington, D.C. to demand justice and equality, you can count on the PCJF to remain a staunch defender of Free Speech rights in the nation’s capital.