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Federal Court Upholds the Herding of Demonstrators Into “Free Speech Zones”

Mac Slavo
August 8th, 2012
SHTFplan.com

There was once a group of men who established a fundamental law of the land that allowed the people of their new found country to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances. These founding fathers of that Great nation even went so far as to declare that the government itself could never make a law that would threaten to supplant these protections, which were reserved exclusively for the people. This concept of freedom of assembly and protest was so critical to protecting and preserving the liberty of the people that it was the very first law – the very first Amendment – proposed by the newly elected representatives of These United States of America and came into effect on December 15, 1791.

It’s frightening what just a couple of hundred years of politicking, self serving greed and expediency can do to a nation. Apparently, somewhere along the way, politicians and judges who hold their personal views in higher regard than those laws upon which this nation was founded, have taken it upon themselves to decide what’s best for the American people and that, perhaps, we have a little too much liberty:

A federal appeals court has upheld the creation of no demonstration zones, which prohibit free speech in certain public areas.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals released a ruling yesterday upholding a lower court’s decision that also declared such zones as being permissible. The opinion was penned by Judge Dennis Jacobs on behalf of a three judge panel that included Judges Pierre Leval and Debra Ann Livingston, two of whom are Republican judges appointed by George H.W. Bush.

The case surrounded an arrest that took place in 2004 when Michael Marcavage of Repent America and Steve Lefemine of Columbia Christians for Life attended the Republican National Convention in Madison Square Garden to address the large number of pro-abortion speakers at the event, including Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to court records, the two were standing on the public sidewalk holding signs when they were approached by police. The police officer informed the men that they could not stand in their particular location because it had been marked by officials as being a “no demonstration” zone.

When the men asked where they could go to engage in free speech activity, the officer directed them to a free speech zone located a block away from the entrance of Madison Square Garden. The area, which police had specifically erected for demonstrations, was the only location where expressive activity was allowed to take place during the event. Individuals of varying and opposite opinions were forced to stand together in one consolidated and caged area, which included a stage with a microphone.

Marcavage and Lefemine complied by walking away from the area alongside the officers and toward the zone that the NYPD had established. As they walked and were questioning the police about the purpose and reasoning behind the zones, they were placed under arrest for not relocating to the area fast enough.

“They took us to an abandoned warehouse where they funneled hundreds of people into cages that they had set up for this purpose,” Marcavage explained. “They treated us like cattle.

(source)

Only those who agree with the message being delivered at a particular political or public event are now authorized to assemble in or around these areas. Anyone else is relegated to the cattle cages out of view of the public, the media and the officials at whom their protest or grievance is directed.

These zones are the very antithesis of free speech.

And it’s not just judges ruling by decree that are stripping us of our right to assemble and protest. In fact, the 1st Amendment itself has been, per recent Congressional action, overridden by a new law that was passed earlier this year. The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act now allows national and local authorities to declare any venue they so choose as an “event of national significance,” at which point anyone who is found to be demonstrating in those areas can be charged under Federal criminal statutes.

Congress Criminalizes the Right to Free Assembly; Strips Basic Protections of First Amendment:

The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene.

It’s not just the president who would be spared from protesters, either.

Covered under the bill is any person protected by the Secret Service. Although such protection isn’t extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest.

In the text of the act, the law is allowed to be used against anyone who knowingly enters or remains in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so…

Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense…

With the definitions for “domestic terrorism” now taking on a broad scope and encompassing almost any activity deemed as such by the Department of Homeland Security and federal authorities, it is only a matter of time before peaceful demonstrators are not only detained for their criminal terroristic activities, but held indefinitely under US anti-terrorism laws like the National Defense Authorization Act.

That members of our Congress and appointed Federal judges would first create, then uphold, such laws designed to explicitly enact regulations in direct and overt violation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is nothing short of a treasonous action.

It is, by all accounts, a betrayal of the people of this country and of the established laws of the land.

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Fight looms over detainee provisions

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05/13/12 05:25 PM ET
By Jeremy Herb and Carlo Munoz

The House will re-ignite a debate this week that last year sparked public outrage and a White House veto threat: Can terror suspects on U.S. soil be detained indefinitely?

Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans are planning to push an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill on the House floor next week that would strip out provisions allowing the military to hold terror suspects captured in the U.S.

 

The amendment would undo language from last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and go one step further to change the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Opponents of the detention laws warn that U.S. citizens are at risk of indefinite military detention if the law is not changed. Proponents claim the detention laws are a necessary tool in the fight against terror and last year’s bill merely codified current U.S. law.

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) offered a fix to this year’s authorization bill granting habeas corpus rights to terror detainees.

But that didn’t go far enough for Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who are planning to offer next week’s amendment on detention.

“The problem isn’t Habeas; the problem is Americans being held without charge or trial forever,” Amash told The Hill.

The issue of military detention and U.S. citizens touched a nerve in the public last year, receiving wide coverage and getting attention from “The Daily Show” as it was debated in the Senate.

At issue is striking a balance between fighting the war on terror and guaranteeing due process rights in the Constitution.

Analysts who study military law have said that the executive branch already has authority to detain U.S. citizens.  The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on whether citizens captured on U.S. soil could be detained indefinitely.

After the White House’s veto threat over detainee provisions in last year’s defense bill, lawmakers opted to water down the language. Despite the compromise, Obama issued a signing statement that said he would not detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who is backing Smith’s amendment, argued that the signing statement would not prevent future administrations from using indefinite detentions.

“The problem is emphasized in the president’s signing statement, which paraphrased said basically, ‘While this power may exist, I won’t use it,’ ” Garamendi said. “But will your successor use it? That’s what we want to get at.”

Supporters of the detention provisions argue that the military needs the ability to detain terrorists indefinitely to gather intelligence and prevent attacks. Republicans have opposed efforts to turn military suspects over to civilian courts, which the Obama administration has sought to do.

“Do I believe that language and the NDAA is a perfect protection of the liberties we cherish? Probably not,” said Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), who had problems with last year’s Defense authorization bill’s detainee provision.

“We’re having this debate because there’s a threat,” Landry said. “If the threat was eliminated there would be no need for the debate.”

Landry opposes Smith’s amendment, however, because he feels it’s too broad in covering anyone captured on U.S. soil, and not just American citizens.

Landry said the changes McKeon made to the detention language this year granting habeas rights to terror detainees satisfied his concerns from last year’s bill.

“What people were looking for was to ensure that there was some sort of due process when the executive detains someone,” Landry said.

A Republican House aide said Smith’s proposal goes too far with unintended consequences to the president’s traditional war powers, including providing an incentive for terrorists to come to the U.S. because they would have more rights here.

A sneak preview of next week’s floor debate on the issue played out in the Armed Services committee early Thursday morning as the authorization bill was marked up.

Smith offered and then withdrew an amendment that will be nearly identical to the one he’s introducing on the floor next week.

“It is very, very rare to give that amount of power to the president [and] take away any person’s fundamental freedom and lock them up without the normal due process of law,” Smith said.

“Leaving this on the books is a dangerous threat to civil liberties,” he added.

Republicans, however, pushed back in the other direction, as Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) added an amendment to the bill that puts more restrictions on releasing Guantanamo detainees.

His amendment bumped up the Pentagon’s notification requirement to Congress to 90 days from 30 before releasing Guantanamo detainees.

Garamendi and Amash said they were optimistic that the amendment could pass on the House floor as it had support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Amash pointed to 43 Republicans who voted against the authorization bill last year, stemming from concerns about indefinite detention.

“This cuts across the entire spectrum of the Congress,” Garamendi said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good shot, and the public has really taken hold of this issue.”

But Landry, who said he’s had a number of productive conversations with Amash on the issue, was skeptical. He argued that the public concern — and his own — was covering American citizens and due process laws, and Smith and Amash are going beyond that by covering anyone captured on U.S. soil.

The authorization bill is due to go to the floor this week, and the Senate will be marking up its bill later this month, where the detainee debate is also likely to arise again.

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