International Action Center, et al vs. United States government

Today, attorneys with the Partnership for Civil Justice have filed suit to preserve the right of the people to demonstrate and express political opinions on America’s Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Lawyers Guild is keenly aware of the dangerous trend that this lawsuit seeks to counter, under which law enforcement responds to major
demonstrations with excessive police presence and tight and unpredictable limitations on political speech, and we fully support this legal action and the principles it seeks to uphold.

Today, attorneys with the Partnership for Civil Justice have filed suit to preserve the right of the people to demonstrate and express political opinions on America’s Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Lawyers Guild is keenly aware of the dangerous trend that this lawsuit seeks to counter, under which law enforcement responds to major
demonstrations with excessive police presence and tight and unpredictable limitations on political speech, and we fully support this legal action and the principles it seeks to uphold.

Comments by police agencies in the media and in letters to attorneys for the demonstrators make clear that the government would prefer that those with grievances against the government remain silent. The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department has announced its intention to deploy more police than during the IMF and World Bank
protests last April. Police have stated that they are establishing checkpoints to screen Inaugural Parade attendees, citing demonstrators as the reason for taking this step.

“This represents a continuation of an unconstitutional crackdown on speech,” said National Lawyers Guild President Bruce Nestor. “Since Seattle, the government has behaved as if any expression of political dissent were a security threat. To the contrary, the crackdown and militarization of our streets is the real threat to our democracy.”

Supporters of the President-elect will be permitted to set up amplifiers and platforms along Pennsylvania Avenue, while the government has refused to allow demonstrators to do the same despite their offer to do so well in advance of the Secret Service security check that will be conducted on all structures. Furthermore, there are no standards for who will be denied entrance at the checkpoints, with police indicating to some demonstrators that they will decide who and what to allow in “on a case by case basis,” which leaves grave concern that First Amendment rights will not be fully considered.

“Guild lawyers and other progressive attorneys must take action to remind the government that the Constitutional right to demonstrate, which is fully protected by the First Amendment, does not disappear just because there are security concerns. The lawsuit Partnership for Civil Justice and the NLG
filed today will force the government to strike a more appropriate balance,” said veteran civil rights lawyer Arthur Kinoy, Professor of Law at Rutgers University.

The National Lawyers Guild has been in the service of the people since 1937, and stands behind the work of our members at the Partnership for Civil Justice, co-founders Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl
Messineo, and staff attorney Zachary Wolfe, National Vice President of the NLG. We will train and deploy over 100 legal observers on January 20 to monitor police activity and defend the rights of political protesters.

Author: National Lawyers Guild

News Service: WW News Service

URL: http://www.justiceonline.org