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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

Retaliatory Arrest Case

My grandfather was a minister, who was famous for sermons that lasted on the long side. It makes me smile when I think back.  I can still hear his voice in my mind.  As a kid, I would always ask, “why does grandpa preach so long”. Of course, the Sunday roast never did burn, so I guess it wasn’t too long.

Sometime near the “end” of the sermon, he would say those famous words of “in conclusion”. What that really meant, was that the sermon was going to last about 20 more minutes.   I guess heredity might explain why my blogs sometimes get carried away on the long side.

With that as a backdrop, I am going to “quickly” discuss a Court case that is being heard by the Supreme Court. It involves a claim for retaliatory arrest and the question of free speech.

I am surprised that I don’t remember this case. Only now that the Supremes are hearing it, has it come to my attention. I hope you’ll click on the link for great details, but here is a summary:

Environmental consultant Steven Howards, saw Vice President Dick Cheney in a shopping mall near a ski lift. It was Beaver Creek, Colorado, 2008.

Howards walked up to Cheney, with the Secret Service standing around, and told the Vice President that his “policies in Iraq are disgusting”. While saying this, he apparently touched Cheney’s shoulder. Nothing occurred right then that would result in a Supreme Court appeal.

Ten minutes later, Howards walked through again, looking for his son. He was described as looking anxious. At that point, Secret Service agent, Virgil Reichle, walked over and asked Howards if he would answer some questions about his conversation with the Vice President. Howards said no and told Reichie that if he didn’t want people talking to the Vice President, then he should “keep Cheney out of public places”.

In Conclusion…. I’m just kidding.

The agent got angry and soon handcuffed Howards for allegedly having patted Cheney with an open palm, when he spoke to him earlier. Ultimately, the charges were dropped. During initial deposition discovery, it was determined that this Secret Service agent also tried to get a report changed about Howards’ conduct, to support his arrest.

Despite the local district attorney dropping the charges, Howards filed suit for being taken into custody.  The Court of Appeals in Denver, ruled that the agent had sufficient basis to take Howards into custody. The Supreme Court is going to rule on whether Howards had a protected right under his constitutional freedom of speech, to do and say  that to the Vice President. Should he be allowed to pursue a claim for retaliatory discharge? The Supreme Court will tell us by their opinion in this term.

For pic o’ day, I am posting two unusual arrest pictures. I am surprised by the amount of mascot or costume “arrest picture” that are available.


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