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February 01, 2006

Cindy Sheehan's Side Of The Story Activism  Politics  Rights, Law

You've probably heard that Cindy Sheehan was arrested in the House chamber last night before the SOTU address, and you may have heard various versions of what happened.

Cindy tells what actually happened, here.

Glenn Greenwald explains that US law is clear — wearing a t-shirt on Capitol grounds is specifically called out as not constituting a "demonstration":

In Bynum v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd. (Dist. D.C. 1997) (.pdf), the District Court found the regulations applying 140 U.S.C. § 193 — the section of the U.S. code restricting activities inside the Capitol — to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Bynum involved a Reverend who was threatened with arrest by Capitol Police while leading a small group in prayer inside the Capitol. The Capitol Police issued that threat on the ground that the praying constituted a "demonstration."

That action was taken pursuant to the U.S. Code, in which Congress decreed as follows: "It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons wilfully and knowingly...to parade, demonstrate or picket within any Capitol Building." 140 U.S.C. § 193(f)(b)(7).

As the Bynum court explained: "Believing that the Capitol Police needed guidance in determining what behavior constitutes a 'demonstration,' the United States Capitol Police Board issued a regulation that interprets 'demonstration activity,'" and that regulation specifically provides that it "does not include merely wearing Tee shirts, buttons or other similar articles of apparel that convey a message. Traffic Regulations for the Capitol Grounds, § 158" (emphasis added).

I wish I had a t-shirt for every time Bush mouthed the words "liberty" and "freedom" in his speech last night. Orwell lives.

Posted by Jonathan at February 1, 2006 02:33 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb