“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”- First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Does the passage of H.R. 347 mean that Congress and President Obama have ignored the Constitution of the United States, and thus their oaths of office? The so-called Trespass Bill that breezed through the House with barely a peep of dissent and was quickly and quietly signed by Obama sure seems to violate the First Amendment.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explained that the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (it sounds like a lawn service agreement), “…permits Secret Service agents to designate any place they wish as a place where free speech, association and petition of the government are prohibited. And it permits the Secret Service to make these determinations based on the content of speech. Thus, federal agents whose work is to protect public officials and their friends may prohibit the speech and the gatherings of folks who disagree with those officials or permit the speech and the gatherings of those who would praise them, even though the First Amendment condemns content-based speech discrimination by the government.”
In this video, Judge Nap explains to Fox News why H.R. 347 is such a dangerous law-
Supporters argue that most of the restrictions were already on the books. Natasha Lennard counters in Salon, “This is not to say that free speech issues raised by HR 347′s passage should be ignored, but rather contextualized against a backdrop where protest and dissent are already consistently treated as illegal.”
As usual, the mainstream media played cheerleader for Obama. According to Joe Wolverton in The New American, the media is painting the law as “a beefed up effort to protect the President and other top-rank government officials from assassination attempts and other threats of violence.”
Wolverton adds, “It is possible, therefore, that a person could attend a political speech by one of the GOP contenders or by Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, and unintentionally find himself within the prohibited parameters and be subject to federal fines and imprisonment. Who can deny that this discourages free speech? Furthermore, who can deny that the right to speak out freely against government oppression is one of the chief cornerstones of our Republic?”
Boris Volkhonsky puts it quite bluntly in the Eurasia Review: “The tendency is clear – the U.S. is gradually turning into a police state. What started as a counterterrorist activity in the wake of 9/11 has turned into a total war of the state on its own citizens. The peaceful protesters can be easily labeled as suspected terrorists with all the consequences. And if the First Amendment stands in the way, get rid of it.”
So, how in the world can our elected officials defend this latest assault on the First Amendment? According to Jeanine Mollof in the Huffington Post, the legislator “responsible for bringing this legislative excrement to life” is Congressman Tom Rooney (R-Fla.). Mollof says, “Rooney’s communication director, Michael Mahaffey dismissed any concerns about civil liberties violations caused by H.R. 347 as…’a whole lot of kerfuffle over nothing. This (HR 347) doesn’t affect anyone’s right to protest anywhere at any time. Ever.’”
At least until the Secret Service decides differently.