Federal Court Upholds Exclusion Of Denver Residents From Bush Speech Based On Political Expression

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
November 7, 2008 12:00 am

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DENVER – In a blow to free speech, a federal district court judge found that no constitutional rights were violated when Leslie Weise and Alex Young were ejected from one of President Bush’s speeches in Denver in March 2005. The lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado, charged that Weise and Young, two of the so-called “Denver 3,” were ejected simply because they arrived at the event in a car with the bumper sticker reading “No More Blood For Oil.”

The following can be attributed to Chris Hansen, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group and lead attorney on the case:

“We believe the court’s ruling overlooked the fact that our clients were excluded from a government event that was open to the general public. The notion that the president can exclude anyone he chooses from such an event just because he disagrees with their point of view is inconsistent with the First Amendment. People who disagree with the president have as much right to listen to him speak as his supporters. Handpicking which Americans are allowed entry to public events is unconstitutional and goes against everything this country is supposed to stand for.”

Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed the case, Weise v. Casper, concluding that the constitutional rights of Weise and Young were not violated when they were removed from the event. The ACLU is considering an appeal of the decision.

In addition to Hansen, lawyers on the case are Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado; Catherine Crump of the national ACLU; and ACLU cooperating attorneys Martha Tierney and Jeremy Ramp of Denver-based law firm Kelly Haglund Garnsey & Kahn.

More information about the ACLU’s case is available online at: www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/protest_president.html

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