SCOTUS to weigh presidential visit protests

Obama likes to be able to control the masses.
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The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider a case that challenges the Secret Service’s ability to limit protests in the vicinity of the president, particularly in ways that may disfavor demonstrators hostile to the chief executive.

The case the justices agreed to consider at the request of the Obama administration stems from a protest against President George W. Bush during a 2004 visit to Jacksonville, Ore. Anti-Bush demonstrators sued, claiming they were kept more than twice as far from the president as a more supportive crowd. The Bush critics say their First Amendment rights were violated because of the unfair treatment and because they were put so far away that Bush and his close aides could not see or hear the demonstration.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling that the lawsuit could proceed. The panel judges pointed to a Presidential Advance Manual that told advance staff to work with the Secret Service to set up a protest area “preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route.” The judges also noted that the lawsuit claimed the regular practice of the Secret Service was to put critical protesters further away than friendly demonstrators or crowds.



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