A.N.S.W.E.R. Sued over Free Speech Space on Inauguration
By: Denise Simon | FoundersCode.com
The biggest protest site at the Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20 will be Navy Memorial!
The Navy Memorial stage will feature leaders from every grassroots movement — immigrant rights, labor, environmental justice, women’s rights, Movement for Black Lives, LGBTQ equality, anti-war and others — as well as progressive leaders from the whole spectrum of faith communities. Artists, musicians and DJs will be performing throughout the day.
Pennsylvania Ave. NW between 7th & 9th
28-foot stage • Big sound system
Speakers from across the grassroots movement!
Days Before Trump Inauguration, D.C. Circuit OKs Limits on Protests
Mauro/Law: Just three days before the presidential inauguration, a federal appeals court panel on Tuesday ruled that allotting parts of the parade route to the official Presidential Inaugural Committee does not violate the free speech rights of protesters who want to use the same space to demonstrate.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the notion that the regulation granting priority space to the inauguration committee amounted to viewpoint discrimination, instead asserting that it was “a reasonable time, place, and manner regulation of the use of a public forum.”
Judge Nina Pillard authored the opinion for the panel, which included Judges Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett. All three were appointed by President Barack Obama.
The ruling came in A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition v. Basham, a suit that had its roots in the 2013 inauguration. The acronym stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. The court panel heard arguments in November.
The group wanted to demonstrate in Freedom Plaza, a high-visibility park area on Pennsylvania Avenue that has been the locale for demonstrations of all kinds for years. The regulation governing the inaugural parade allots 13 percent of footage on the parade route to the official inaugural committee, including space for bleachers on Freedom Plaza. The rest of the space is available on a first-come-first-serve basis to individuals and organizations, with certain restrictions.
Giving the bleacher space to the official committee, the protest group claimed, violated the First Amendment by preferring the government’s message over others.
But the panel disagreed. “The First Amendment requires that any reasonable, content-neutral regulation limiting expression along the parade route leave ample space available for peaceful demonstrations,” the panel asserted. “The First Amendment does not, however, support ANSWER’s claim of a right to displace spectator bleachers with its own demonstration at Freedom Plaza.”
Because the inaugural committee is the organizer of the event, the panel agreed, giving it priority space “turns not on the content of any speech, but on the desirability of providing to the Inaugural Committee as the event organizer a limited amount of reserved seating for ticketed spectators.”
The National Park Service and the Secret Service defended the regulation in part by arguing that the allotment of parade-route space amounted to government speech, which is largely immune from First Amendment scrutiny. The court said it was not necessary to rule on that point.
In the ruling Pillard also celebrated the right to protest in public places. “One of the great accomplishments of our Constitution is its guarantee of the people’s right to take to the streets to say what they think.”
*** More on A.N.S.W.E.R.:
ANSWER has played an important role in the fight against racist and religious profiling, in support of immigrant and workers’ rights, and for economic and social justice for all. Our members are engaged in a range of struggles, from the local battles against police brutality to the international campaigns against militarism and war.
ANSWER Chapters are organizing in cities and towns throughout the United States connecting the flight for social justice at home and in opposition to war and occupation abroad.
Below is a listing of major events in ANSWER’s history
Tens of thousands march on the White House for Gaza
Tens of thousands from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. for a national march against the U.S.-backed Israeli massacre in Gaza
Thousands nationwide take part in Sept. 7 protests against war on Syria
On Sept. 7, just before Congress returns from its summer recess to decide whether or not to bomb Syria, demonstrations were held in cities across the country against another war