Judge Napolitano: No Free Speech in Presence of Secret Service – Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Act

Last week President Obama signed a new law to restrict what you can say in certain places and to certain people, mainly your elected representatives, but can expand out, say to members of your campaign. Disturbing is that Republican Thomas Rooney (FL) introduced the legislation. The bill had one co-sponsor, Ted Deutch (D-FL). It became Public Law No. 112-98 on March 8, 2012. There were three ‘nay’ votes: Paul Broun (R-GA), Justin Amash (R-MI) and Ron Paul (R-TX). See comments from Judge Andrew Napolitano on this “abominable” law, which is a felony, and can result in a year’s imprisonment,  below. Video also below.

SUMMARY from GovTrack:  Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 – Amends the federal criminal code to revise the prohibition against entering restricted federal buildings or grounds to impose criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly enters any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. Defines “restricted buildings or grounds” as a posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of: (1) the White House or its grounds or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds, (2) a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting, or (3) a building or grounds so restricted due to a special event of national significance.

Judge Andrew Napolitano (read it all here):

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. This law 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

Judge Andrew Napolitano

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.

The new law also provides that anyone who gathers in a “restricted” area may be prosecuted. And because the statute does not require the government to prove intent, a person accidentally in a restricted area can be charged and prosecuted, as well.

Permitting people to express publicly their opinions to the president only at a time and in a place and manner such that he cannot hear them violates the First Amendment because it guarantees the right to useful speech; and unheard political speech is politically useless. The same may be said of the rights to associate and to petition. If peaceful public assembly and public expression of political demands on the government can be restricted to places where government officials cannot be confronted, then those rights, too, have been neutered.

Political speech is in the highest category of protected speech. This is not about drowning out the president in the Oval Office. This is about letting him know what we think of his work when he leaves the White House. This is speech intended to influence the political process.

From around the blogosphere:

➤ Under the law, anyone seen to be acting “disorderly” in the presence of a member of Congress can be subject to a fine and up to a year in prison. Anyone who happens to be “disorderly” and have a weapon on them (even a legally-carried concealed firearm) can be subject to a fine and up to ten years in prison.

This means that if a member of Congress wanders into a restaurant where you’re eating, and you make a comment or take an action deemed to be “disorderly,” you could be facing jail time. Even more if you just happen to be exercising your 2nd amendment rights when this happens. And you can kiss town hall meetings where citizens give up and give their members of Congress what-for goodbye. If you ask a pointed question of your member of Congress, you could find yourself under arrest for being “disorderly.”

I believe the law only applies when a member of Congress has some sort of protection along (like, say, Secret Service) but honestly it’s so broadly written that it the chill for free speech is almost palpable. ~ Rob Port at Say Anything Blog, writing before Obama signed it into law.

Sounds to me as just another expected step toward a Marxist government where no citizen has a right to say or do anything against the government and its politicians.  The old Soviet Union did it.  China and Syria are still doing it and the Socialist States of America will soon be doing it.

America is no longer the land of free as we aren’t free to do very much anymore without it being illegal or offensive to someone else.  At the current rate of America’s decline and loss of freedoms, it’s probably time to scrape the Statue of Liberty and sell it for the copper. ~ Giacomo at GodFather of Politics

➤ What I do know is that since the turn of the year our President has violated the constitution three times.  First back in January when he bypassed congress and made four appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board while congress was still in proforma session. We did not hear a peep from the left and those illegal appointments still stand.  The second violation came when he signed into law the NDAA which has a provision in it that authorizes the government to detain American citizens indefinitely if suspected of ties to terrorist organizations.  And now we have H.R. 347 the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act. ~ John Carey at SENTRY JOURNAL

➤ What if, during a speech by the President, some demonstrators outside loudly protested the Administration’s targeted killing of suspected terrorists? Suppose also that one or two unwittingly had crossed over some temporary security boundaries established by the Secret Service.  To my knowledge, this hasn’t happened.  But if it happens sometime soon, then we probably will read more about H.R. 347, a.k.a the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.”  It was passed by the House and the Senate recently, and presented for the President’s signature last Thursday.  And it has gotten some attention of late, with detractors characterizing H.R. 347 as an impingement on civil liberties, and supporters dismissing those complaints.

The legislation’s first and seemingly uncontroversial aim is to establish federal jurisdiction over trespasses against the White House and the Vice President’s home.  The current federal restricted areas statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1752, applies only to places that the President and other protected officials visit.  But the existing statute does not cover the White House or the Vice President’s mansion; such areas instead are left to regulation under the laws of the District of Columbia.  If signed by the President, H.R. 347 would change this by making it a federal offense to enter the White House or the Vice President’s residence without authorization, and to cause disruptions at other restricted locations when they are visited by the president or other officials.

H.R. 347’s far more blogo-controversial innovation is this: the bill also would make it easier for a person to violate § 1752.  Right now the statute applies to individuals who, among other things, “willfully and knowingly” cause disruptions in and around federal facilities, or other areas temporarily restricted because of official visits.  H.R. 347 would drop “willfully” and leave “knowingly”… ~ Wells C. Bennet at Lawfare

➤ Congress grounds its power to pass the act in the necessary and proper clause, Art. I, §8 cl. 18.

Like the act protecting the Supreme Court building and environs, this act has the potential to chill protest, and is sure to provoke similar constitutional challenges. ~ RR at Constitutional Law Prof Blog

➤ This law comes at the heels of the US government having debated over whether or not to indefinitely detain US citizens and Attorney General Eric Holder- the Obama administration’s version of John Yoo, arguing that the President can assassinate US citizens without providing any evidence whatsoever to anyone.

Free speech may very well soon be nothing but a distant relic of the past. ~ Devon DB at GlobalResearch

➤ “HR 347 and S 1794, the ‘‘Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011” has nothing to do with improving landscaping around federal buildings.  This bill is being presented as a No Trespassing bill.  Reasonable people understand that restrictions and protections are needed for government officials and government functions.  However, this legislation makes it a federal crime to simply DISRUPT the ORDERLY CONDUCT of government.  The violator doesn’t have to be on the grounds where the government business is being conducted, just within the vicinity of the self-proclaimed business. The law is not limited to buildings or locations as the title suggests, but seems to be “roving” and follows persons protected by Secret Service wherever they go.”

“The right to orderly conduct government is NOT a Constitutionally protected right. However we DO have the right to free speech and the right to peaceably assemble.  Our Constitution establishes the fundamental principle rights to speech and assembly are held by the people and the government must protect these rights, not limit them.” ~ KrisAnne Hall, Constitutional attorney and scholar, Gainesville Tea Party

Please watch the video below. “This is a slow, creeping destruction of some of our basic liberties.” ~ Judge Andrew Napolitano

Judge Andrew Napolitano with Eric Bolling on Possibility of Suppressing Speech on Base of Content (video)

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook

2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • There is now 9 Amendments in the bill of rights.

    • woodsterman, I’m slow today. Come back and ‘splain yourself!

  • Pingback: Whoops, you can’t say that-it might offend HIM | Grumpy Opinions()

  • You put a frog in a pan of boiling water and he’ll jump out. You put that same frog into a pan of lukewarm water and he’ll sit there. You turn the heat up and he’ll sit there as he slowly begins to die as the water comes to a boil.

    The heat has been turned up on the America people and is close to boiling as our Constitutional Rights are slowly being diminished.

    • BobF, Obama keeps the side boiling and roiling as well. Did you hear the Tom Hanks narrative on the 17-minute movie?

  • Thanks Maggie for the link. If the American people don’t wake up soon it will all be lost and we will be the generation that allowed the republic to slip away. Great post my friend.

    • John, I thought the election between Bush and Gore would be the most important in my lifetime. How wrong I was, although had Gore won we would have been facing similar challenges. Back then though, Congress was different. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Obama signs anti-protest Trespass Bill()

  • physicsNut

    I am beginning to detect the stench of neo-bolsheviks making a push to monopolize the media and marginalize talk radio. We might well wake up and the only thing on the air is NPR or something insipid. How do you think russia was turned into a totalitarian police state ? Nobody knew what was going on. That is just the way the stinking little totalitarians like it.
    One of the local FM stations that carries conservative talk is now all music. I would like to know what happened – dont see anything in the local papers – but they are all run by libs anyway. One might suspect that the creeps at the lib websites are behind this, or maybe ad agencies, or perhaps the FCC. Need to find out.

    • physicsNut, there is definitely an agenda. We have the first ever FCC Diversity Czar hired by Obama’s Harvard law classmate who now heads the FCC. If interested, you can read it here. The man who headed Obama’s transition team for the FCC is a raving diversity advocate. Read that here. Things at the FCC happen quietly until a Fairness Doctrine type situation gins things up again.

      A big issue is getting community licenses in the hands of small, minority ownership.

      Try and online search for your local FM station. Maybe you’ll find something there. Hope this helps. It’s happening, just as you suggest.

  • No more rowdy demonstrations against unpopular legislation like Obamacare, eh? Future “townhall” meetings will be sedate affairs where none of the Washington commissars will have to respond to the aggressive questioning of their subjects.

    • Hi Bob, you know where this will go from here – and every Republican but three were okay with it. Mindboggling. Frustrating. Disappointing.

  • Jennifer

    The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) pending both houses March 2009, is to amend the National Labor Relations Act for an easier system to enable employees to form, join and assist labor organizations. it seeks to provide mandatory injunction for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts. The unionization is through card checks which, yes, could bypass employer secret ballot system.