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A Presidential Restaurant Stop

It is a Supreme Court case pitting the question of freedom of speech versus a question of safety for the President styled Wood v. Moss  (Washington Post) The losing party’s spokesman voiced the following response to the Court’s opinion, “No one disputes that the Secret Service has an overriding interest in protecting the president, but that does not include the right to shield the president from criticism,”  Does that tell you how the Court ruled 9-0?

As summarized in the case review from my VTLA eBlast, “The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed against several Secret Service agents accused of treating critics of President George W. Bush differently than his supporters. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that ‘the agents were immune from a lawsuit because they had good reason to move the protesters farther away when the president decided to dine on a patio after a 2004 campaign event in Jacksonville, Ore.’.”

In October 2004, during a campaign trail appearance in Oregon, President Bush decided to make an impromptu stop at a local restaurant. About 15 minutes after the President was seated, a noisy protest began. Soon, the anti-Bush crowd was moved away by the Secret Service. Those who were deemed as supporters of the President were not asked to move.

Seven protestors filed suit against the Secret Service agents who were responsible for moving them. They were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging that because they were treated differently from the other pro-Bush demonstrators, that their right to free speech had been violated.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the unanimous decision, noting that there was no precedent that says that Secret Service agents in a crowd control situation, have a First Amendment obligation to ensure that different viewpoints be kept at comparable distances. As Justice Ginsburg noted, “Nor would the maintenance of equal access make sense in the situation the agents confronted”.

The opinion of the Court also noted that the pro-Bush supporters could not have endangered the President when looking at their location from maps and diagrams. However, the protesters “were within weapons range, and had a largely unobstructed view of the President’s location”.  Thus, the Court’s finding of immunity for the agents.

DID YOU KNOW that a British man legally changed his name to Tim Pppppppppprice, to make it harder for bothersome telemarketers to pronounce? I guess just not answering the phone was not an option.

And for pic o’ day, a funny slant on the Chuck Norris humor:

Cat Norris

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