Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Free Speech A Felony with HR 347: All Americans Appalled

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President Obama has just signed HR 347, Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, which makes Free Speech in the form of protesting near the Secret Service officially a felony. One year in jail should dissuade anyone from challenging the Secret Service's new power to decide when First Amendment protections apply.

Also of note the length of debate as reported by The Library of Congress:
2/28/2011 2:37pm:

DEBATE - The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate
2/27/2012 4:06pm:

The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on the motion to agree in the Senate amendment

This bill is alarming across the American political spectrum. The ACLU agrees that this is an appalling bill:

These restricted areas include locations where individuals under Secret Service protection are temporarily located, and certain large special events like a presidential inauguration. They can also include large public events like the Super Bowl and the presidential nominating conventions (troublingly, the Department of Homeland Security has significant discretion in designating what qualifies as one of these special events).

The original statute, unchanged by H.R. 347,made certain conduct with respect to these restricted areas a crime, including simple trespass, actions in or near the restricted area that would "disrupt the orderly conduct of Government," and blocking the entrance or exit to the restricted area.

H.R. 347 did make one noteworthy change, which may make it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.
Fox News comments on the situation:

A San Diego political activist added:
Only 3 Republicans opposed this bill; Justin Amash of Michigan, Paul Broun of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas.   I contacted my present and former Congressmen (Issa and Bilbray) tonight and gave them an earful.
Maybe the Secret Servicers should be brought up from Columbia to keep the tyrants happy.

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