Congress has just made it easier to arrest and convict those who exercise their 1st Amendment rights of protest and assembly.
A number of articles have recently appeared on the web concerning the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” a bill recently passed by Congress which makes it a criminal offense to “impede or disrupt” the activities of the President, Vice President or anyone under the immediate protection of the Secret Service.
The measure also makes it illegal to engage in “disorderly behavior” at a special event of “national significance” or in the proximity of a “restricted building or grounds.” Anyone who violates a provision of the proposed statute is subject to fine, imprisonment of up to 10 years or both. (1)
In short, Congress figures it would be a good idea to keep tight rein on anyone who demonstrates a little too energetically about the decisions coming out of Washington DC or the people who make them.
But more interesting than the content of the new bill is the fact that the Restricted Buildings and Grounds Act already exists in federal law. It is legislation which has been around since the late 60’s, making the same threats against protesters and imposing the same penalties.
So the obvious question is, what prompted Congress to unearth and amend this decades old measure?
A careful reading of the amended Act makes the intentions of DC politicians...
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