To The Daily Sun,
The Supreme Court — or SCOTUS — has affirmed it needs "safe space" and in doing so calls into question how we the people can trust the institution to defend the First Amendment or the Constitution. From the founding of the nation until 1949, the right to assemble and peacefully protest were allowed essentially everywhere in America.
In 1949, Congress placed a ban on organized protests and signs in front of the Supreme Court via 40 U.S.C. § 635: U.S. Code Section 6135. They made it "...unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement." They made safe space for the Supreme Court.
In 1949, Justice William O. Douglas wrote for SCOTUS that: "The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion ... It is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected. The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes." The ruling of the court was and remains replete with irony.
In January 2011, Harold Hodge was arrested when he stood quietly on the Supreme Court plaza wearing a 3-foot by 2-foot sign that read, "The U,S, Gov. Allows Police to Illegally Murder and Brutalize African Americans and Hispanic People." Hodge was standing there alone when he was arrested. Hodge was offered a deal to have the charges dropped in exchange for a promise to not "demonstrate" on the plaza. Instead, he chose to fight the law.
In 2013, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell struck down the restrictions. The next day, the marshal for SCOTUS, in defiance of the appeals court and with Chief Justice John Roberts' approval, issued even stronger regulations to prevent free expression on the grounds of the Supreme Court.
In 2015 a unanimous appeals court overturned Judge Howell's ruling and upheld the constitutionality of the ban. The court wrote: Allowing demonstrations directed at the Court, on the Court's own front terrace, would tend to yield the opposite impression: that of a Court engaged with and potentially vulnerable to outside entreaties by the public.
This week SCOTUS refused to hear Hodge's appeal of the federal appeals court's ruling and in so doing it retreated to their "safe space," affirming their privilege to be shielded from the discord that accompanies public debate. At this point, the First Amendment isn't worth the paper it's written on. Clearly SCOTUS is detached from the intentions of those who wrote the Constitution they are sworn to support and defend.
Benjamin Franklin said of the importance of free speech: "Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved."
We are seeing this dissolution thanks to laws that give "safe spaces" to judges, politicians, college edicts that restrict speech on campus, edicts from federal regulators and rules by local government and regulatory bodies restricting the use of gender pronouns.
Our creator endows us with certain unalienable rights. Thank you Mr. Hodge and shame on the Supreme Court, Congress and regulators.
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