ACLU Comment on Wood v. Moss Ruling

May 27, 2014 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today dismissed a case against Secret Service agents who moved anti-Bush protestors two blocks away from President George W. Bush during a 2004 campaign trip to Oregon. While reaffirming that the First Amendment prohibits the government from discriminating against protesters because of their political views, the Court nonetheless ruled that the agents could not be sued for damages because they were responding to a sudden change in the President’s travel plans that created what the Court described as valid security concerns, and no prior decision had “clearly established” the rule that protestors and supporters must be kept at a comparable distance from the President.

Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union commented on the court’s decision:

“We are disappointed by today’s ruling. No one disputes that the Secret Service has an overriding interest in protecting the President but that does not include the right to shield the President from criticism, a critical distinction that the Court unanimously reaffirms. In our view, the jury should have been allowed to decide whether this case was actually about security or censorship.”

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