Protest and the President
The First Amendment guarantees us all the right to express our views and be heard by our elected officials. For years, the ACLU has fought the White House policy of shielding the president from dissent. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech, but that right is undermined if protesters can't be heard.
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Through litigation, the ACLU obtained a copy of the Presidential Advance Manual. The manual teaches the President's handlers how to keep protesters away from the President and from the media. People on the ground should "ask the local police department to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route." The manual suggests that handlers form sign-wielding volunteers into "rally squads" who can "use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform."
Jeffrey and Nicole Rank were arrested at one of the President's speeches in Charleston, West Virginia, for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts. They settled their case for $80,000.
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> Stipulation of Dismissal
Leslie Weise and Alex Young were ejected from one of the President's speeches in Denver, Colorado, for arriving at the event in a car with the bumper sticker reading "No More Blood For Oil."
> Cert Petition
> Tenth Circuit Decision
> Brief for Appellees, 10th Circuit
> 10th Circuit Decision
> Complaint (D.C.)
> Complaint (Denver)
> District Court Decision
> Additional Statements of Leslie Weise and Alex Young
Our clients, protesting along the President's motorcade route in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico, were kept 150 yards distant, while Bush supporters holding a "God Bless George Bush!" sign were allowed to stand 15 feet from the President. Law enforcement officers placed two police cars and three mounted officers between our clients and the President, virtually guaranteeing that the President would not see them.
> Blog: Protestors Should Be Seen and Heard
> District Court Opinion on Summary Judgement
> ACLU Sues Law Enforcement for Shielding President Bush From Protestors
> ACLU Calls Government Settlement in Anti-Bush T-Shirt Case a Victory for Free Speech
> White House Policy Illegally Silences Americans Critical of Bush, ACLU Charges
> ACLU Sues White House Staffers for Ejecting Denver Residents from Bush Event
> ACLU Files Lawsuit in Case of Denver Residents Blocked from Bush Event Because of Bumper Sticker
> ACLU Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Protesters Arrested at Bush Rally in Pennsylvania
> ACLU Applauds Court Decision to Dismiss Charges Against Couple Wearing Anti-Bush T-Shirts at a July 4th Presidential Rally
> Secret Service and White House Charged with Violating Free Speech Rights in ACLU Lawsuit