Contrary to Occupiers’ claims, camping is not a First Amendment right

posted at 6:35 pm on January 25, 2012 by Tina Korbe

As I reported Jan. 18, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee has asked for answers to the question of why D.C. Occupiers were allowed to camp indefinitely in a public park. Given that D.C. has a no-camping-in-public-places law in place, the question might better be phrased: Why were D.C. Occupiers allowed to break the law?

Yesterday, Issa’s Committee received testimony from National Park Service officials, who said they plan to enforce the no-camping law soon — but that they won’t evict the Occupiers except in emergency circumstances. I’m at a loss as to how they plan to enforce the law without enforcing the law, but let’s set that aside for a moment to focus on something even more interesting. The National Park Service officials — and, not surprisingly, the Occupiers themselves — claim the protesters have a First Amendment right to squat in a public place. The NPS officials cited decades of case law that has allowed protesters to host 24-hour vigils on parkland.

The National Park people do know the Occupation has dragged on for months now, don’t they? At any rate, case law should take a backseat to Supreme Court precedent anyway. Heritage Foundation investigative reporter Lachlan Markay explains why camping out night and day at taxpayers’ expense and at the risk of public safety and public health doesn’t qualify as protected speech:

The Supreme Court weighed in on the issue in the 1984 case Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence. The NPS had granted CCNV a permit to conduct demonstrations on the National Mall designed to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. But when CCNV set up a tent city – and looked to camp out in it – to drive its point home, the NPS denied its request for a permit that would allow them to sleep there.

CCNV sued, arguing that the act of sleeping in the tent city was integral to its efforts to demonstrate the suffering of homeless people – the entire purpose of the protest. The Supreme Court disagreed, and ruled 7-2 that NPS’s enforcement of the anti-camping statute did not violate CCNV’s First Amendment rights.

As summarized in the syllabus for the decision:

“Assuming that overnight sleeping in connection with the demonstration is expressive conduct protected to some extent by the First Amendment, the regulation forbidding sleeping meets the requirements for a reasonable time, place, or manner restriction of expression, whether oral, written, or symbolized by conduct. The regulation is neutral with regard to the message presented, and leaves open ample alternative methods of communicating the intended message concerning the plight of the homeless. Moreover, the regulation narrowly focuses on the Government’s substantial interest in maintaining the parks in the heart of the Capital in an attractive and intact condition, readily available to the millions of people who wish to see and enjoy them by their presence. To permit camping would be totally inimical to these purposes. The validity of the regulation need not be judged solely by reference to the demonstration at hand, and none of its provisions are unrelated to the ends that it was designed to serve.”

Got it, Occupiers? You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. What — did you think your acts of violence were protected speech, too?


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Anythin liberals want to dio is freedom of speech.

they lie on January 25, 2012 at 6:41 PM

AnythinAnything liberals want to dio do is freedom of speech.

they lie on January 25, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Yes, preview is my best friend if I would use it.

they lie on January 25, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Occupy Hot Air!

:D

Emperor Norton on January 25, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Look, if you can’t defecate on a police car, commit a sexual assault and then OD, are you really free?

trubble on January 25, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Occupy HotGas!!
Ron Paul 2012!!

abobo on January 25, 2012 at 6:46 PM

I occupied my couch a lot…sometimes my comfortable chair. I wore my Che Guevara T-shirt but spilled nachos on it (paper plates). I down twinkled, I up twinkled, I twinkled like all the time. I took to heart Confucius’s quote – “man who stands on toilet is high on pot”. Wise man Confucius…wise man. Anyway, occupy and stuff.

Mom! Where’s the meatloaf! – Wedding Crashers

DHChron on January 25, 2012 at 6:48 PM

This is news to Eric Holder.

pat on January 25, 2012 at 6:50 PM

What — did you think your acts of violence were protected speech, too?

A judge has already decided the issue for us lowlife smelly subhumans :

Back in June of 2010 a leader of a pro-Palestinian student group at University of Berkeley allegedly rammed a Jewish woman with a shopping cart as she staged a counter-protest to an anti-Israel “Apartheid Week” rally conducted by the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. The counter-protest was dubbed “Israel Wants Peace Week.”

Now, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg has deemed that the Muslim students who harassed Jessica Felber and other Jewish students were simply engaging in protected political speech.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ca-judge-deems-ramming-jewish-woman-with-shopping-cart-free-speech/

burrata on January 25, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Yesterday Soros, who is bankrolling these creeps, made headlines by suggesting that they might riot. (That puts me in mind of Soros’ mentor, in 1930′s Germany.) Was Soros, predicting or giving orders?

Van Jones gave a nice nuanced presentation to about 300 aging Leftists in Los Angeles last night. He toned down his normally highly racist shtick, to fit the whitebread audience.

He referred to the 15 or so “Occupiers” in the audience as “sophomores at political activism”.

What do you suppose will happen in the next 12 months?

CrazyGene on January 25, 2012 at 6:54 PM

I’d love to see the NPS’ reaction if a Tea Party tried to camp out in a public space. Not that they would, since they have jobs and such.

mbs on January 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
Seeborg, Richard G.

Born 1956 in Landstuhl, Germany

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, Northern District of California
Nominated by Barack Obama on August 6, 2009, to a seat vacated by Maxine M. Chesney; Confirmed by the Senate on December 24, 2009, and received commission on January 4, 2010.

U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 2001-2009

Education:
Yale College, B.A., 1978
Columbia University School of Law, J.D., 1981

Professional Career:
Law Clerk to Hon. John H. Pratt, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 1981-1982
Private practice of law, San Francisco, Calif., 1982-1991
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of California, 1991-1998
Private practice of law, Palo Alto, Calif., 1998-2001

http://www.fjc.gov A handy site

Someone needs to start compiling and publishing scorecards on judges.

CrazyGene on January 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Heritage Foundation investigative reporter Lachlan Markay explains why camping out night and day at taxpayers’ expense and at the risk of public safety and public health doesn’t qualify as protected speech [.]

… I can’t get past this. Why not:

“Heritage Foundation investigative reporter Lachlan Markay explains why dipping something in chocolate doesn’t prove it’s a strawberry.”

I have to dig faster.

Axe on January 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Add this to the list of things I thought were obvious.

+1

kunegetikos on January 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Camping IS a 1st Amendment right, just like roasting stolen marshmallows over a turd-fueled fire, smashing out bank windows, and raping fellow OCCUPOOPERS are 1st Amendment rights.

Pork-Chop on January 25, 2012 at 7:06 PM

I once camped without a permit…they caught me the first night and kicked me out. What did I say! Nothing, I had herb. I followed the law and left private property, cause I’m a good citizen. Yes, I’ve pooped outside, but I like my shanty towns feces free. Heed my wisdom young stupid liberals; You must first find porta potty before fecal release finds you – Sphinx from Mystery Men?

DHChron on January 25, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Haters.

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM

What do you suppose will happen in the next 12 months?

CrazyGene on January 25, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Riots? Do you think these clowns know how to riot? They would need a lot of proffesional direction, but hey, it could work.
Just ask President Hubert Humphrey.

katy the mean old lady on January 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Here in Northern New England we’ve had to pay to camp on public land for decades. That goes for Federal Land (National Forests) and State Land (State Forests) and Town Land (Town Forests).

I have to pay $20 a year to “use” the White Mountain National Forest; that fee is for any “use” of that area (which includes breathing). O’bama wants to raise that to $30. If I want to Camp in the WMNF, it’s an additional $10 to $30 per night, depending on the type of camping facility.

Some of the Public Camping on National Forest land is free, but you have to hike 8 miles to reach it.

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Darrell Issa would do a better service to the tax payers if he asked why David Vitter, who broke the law and used a prostitute, is still allowed to collect a paycheck.

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Got it, Occupiers? You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Who decides that? You, honey?

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:43 PM

I’m at a loss as to how they plan to enforce the law without enforcing the law,

Well this is Obamaland right now. Up can be down, left can be right, a lie can be the truth, it’s all relative.

GarandFan on January 25, 2012 at 7:44 PM

The left sure is good at “finding” rights in the 1st Amendment… anyone think they’ll stumble across something about religious freedom?

Mr. Prodigy on January 25, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Who decides that? You, honey?

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Private freakin’ property, and the owners of such! cowardly daily Kok.

DHChron on January 25, 2012 at 8:03 PM

A few years ago, I told students on the first day of a Con Law class to set aside their books, get out a piece of paper and write down 5 rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

Among a variety of responses were: The right to talk, the right to pick your friends, the right to a house and car and, my favorite, the right to shop.

This was long before OWSers were around, so that right wasn’t listed back then.

Would be now, I suppose, including a right to a laptop and a right to a free lunch.

Horace on January 25, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Darrell Issa would do a better service to the tax payers if he asked why David Vitter, who broke the law and used a prostitute, is still allowed to collect a paycheck.

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM

better than investigating in concert with Mexican authorities the premeditated murder of at least 200 Mexican citizens, and two border patrol agents? Better than billions going to Obama’s cronies failed energy fiasco’s?

Spitzer got a tv show…I guess dems are immune to your faux outrage.

DHChron on January 25, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Who decides that? You, honey?

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:43 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court decided it.

Syzygy on January 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM

BedBug

In a republic, the duly elected representatives of the people would decide based upon their judgment as to what is good for the community.

In a democracy, such as liberals advocate, such decisions would be made by an unruly mob of hysterical no-nothing moochers and looters.

See: Greek thinkers, Plato, Aristotle, etc.

Horace on January 25, 2012 at 8:15 PM

do not despair bedbug…someday you will have the skill to hang, if you become a conservative/libertarian/everybody else that hates libs like you. Wise up, read up, and pleeeeeeeeaaaaaase get laid. you’re too uptight.

DHChron on January 25, 2012 at 8:20 PM

trubble

“Freedom’s just another word for crappin’ on a car.” – Janis Joplin, I think. ’68/

Horace on January 25, 2012 at 8:21 PM

You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Is anyone else struck by the silliness of this sentence?

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Occupiers take note, Patriots fans too:

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2012/01/25/gisele-bundchen-to-become-first-worlds-first-billionaire-supermodel/?intcmp=features

Wicked evil football players and supermodels!

Fleuries on January 25, 2012 at 8:45 PM

http://www.fjc.gov A handy site

Someone needs to start compiling and publishing scorecards on judges.

CrazyGene on January 25, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Or our legislators can grow a pair and start impeaching judges.

ReformedDeceptiCon on January 25, 2012 at 8:48 PM

These people can occupy mah johnson (I know, not classy, just tired of the libs)

bernzright777 on January 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM

You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Is anyone else struck by the silliness of this sentence?

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 8:31 PM

… OK.

But … these aren’t protests where one stands down a tank in a square; they’re just public gatherings of free people. They’re actually just rallies. Now that you point it out, the word “protest” is strange, but it is probably a delusion of grandeur on the part of the people organizing the rallies.

“You have the right to hold a public rally, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions,” works just fine.

A real protest, they way you mean it (I think), would be fundamentally an act of civil disobedience, wouldn’t it?

If that’s true, maybe the Occupy crowd could argue that they’re a real protest because they are being disobedient — but if they aren’t protesting the park’s rules by breaking them, they’re actually just a bunch of … “unruly rally participants.”

Axe on January 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

For liberals…LAW? WHAT STINKING LAWS?

For conservatives…SDASTFU! PAY YOUR TAXES! PAY YOUR CIVIL FINES OR YOU ARE GOING TO JAIL AND WE WILL CONFISCATE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE IF YOU DON’T PAY!

KOOLAID2 on January 25, 2012 at 9:59 PM

Axe on January 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Just take the sentence at its face value, forget applying it to OWS or whomever else.

“You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Just take the sentence at its face value, forget applying it to OWS or whomever else.

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM

If I have to do that, I have no argument.

So:

You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Is anyone else struck by the silliness of this sentence?

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 8:31 PM

It’s silly. :)

But I still think the meaning of the sentence in context is this:

“You have the right to hold a public rally, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”

Axe on January 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Got it, Occupiers? You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. What — did you think your acts of violence were protected speech, too?

Local news coverage here in DC so these Occupy scumbags lined up on Capitol Hill to get into the hearing. It looked like a queue of bums. One of them lectured that they were not camping, which is recreational, but rather a 24-hour vigil. And, of course, the White House shooter, the abandoned baby, the pushing elderly down concrete stairs were all from people who were camping among the bums but not part of the occupy movement.

BTW, the mention of the CCNV was quite the blast from the past. Mitch Snyder and the CCNV were essentially doing the same thing as the OWS thugs. At one point they “occupied” Union Station. The only difference is that they used real bums and not the pompous over-privileged idiots that are currently crapping on police cars and sleeping with the rats in DC public spaces.

Happy Nomad on January 26, 2012 at 6:59 AM

Axe on January 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

The Occupy DC thugs have destroyed McPherson Square just months after the American taxpayers paid half a million dollars in restoring it. Millions have been spent and police have been diverted from protecting the taxpayers of the city to maintain control over these encampments. It is absurd that the jug-eared idiot in the White House and Ken Salazar has allowed these bums to destroy public property. McPherson Square is rat-infested, a baby was abandoned there last week, and businesses are losing money because nobody wants to go anywhere near these “encampments.” The bums need to be kicked out now!

Happy Nomad on January 26, 2012 at 7:05 AM

Cool. Next time I go camping at Rocky Mountain National Park, I’ll skip out on the $20 fee and just remind the NPS that I have a First Amendment right to the space.

CDeb on January 26, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Happy Nomad on January 26, 2012 at 7:05 AM

I’m with you. I think they are bumming around, and I think they needed to go day 2.

Axe on January 26, 2012 at 8:52 AM

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Because Vitter’s “drawing a paycheck” isn’t for Issa to decide. That’s up to his constituents.

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 8:31 PM

That sentence isn’t silly at all. Are you saying that a right to free speech entails my standing outside your home with a powered PA system (cranked to 115dB), screaming at the top of my lungs at 1am? If not, then you agree with “reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”

GWB on January 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM

The First Amendment right implicated is not the right of free speech but the right of peacable assembly.Pretty close though.

plewis on January 26, 2012 at 12:01 PM

they lie on January 25, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Precisely. If they agree with it, it must be OK. If they disagree with it, it must be evil. That is the essence of leftist ‘thought’.

StoneHeads on January 26, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Also, pooping on stuff is not a protected form of free speech or a particularly good way to get your point across.

Zilla on January 26, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I’m at a loss as to how they plan to enforce the law without enforcing the law

That’s actually easy. They allow a 24/7 vigil/protest; they have to allow it here… and it is free speech. So they won’t be “evicted”.

But they can’t camp there, they can’t sleep there… so if they want a 24/7 protest they’ll have to staff it like a 7-11 and work shifts.

Enforce the “no camping/sleeping” law, while still allowing a 24/7 protest and don’t “evict” them en masse from the property.

Got it, Occupiers? You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Who decides that? You, honey?

BedBug on January 25, 2012 at 7:43 PM

You have a right to free speech, not a right to free sleep. I’m not sure what “speech” you think you have while you’re asleep, and maybe it is more meaningful that anything you can come up with while awake; but I don’t think your sleep-muttering is protected Constitutional speech.

When you wake up, come back to the park and speak some more… but you don’t have a right to sleep here. No part of sleep is speech… and no speech I’ve ever seen or attempted required a tent.

Can you show me the odd style of speech you use that requires a tent? A link to a youtube video where a tent replaced someone’s vocal cords would be sufficient…

Otherwise you can sleep elsewhere and speak in the public park. I’m not sure why you think you need anything different.

The First Amendment right implicated is not the right of free speech but the right of peacable assembly.Pretty close though.

plewis on January 26, 2012 at 12:01 PM

A somewhat better argument; but I’m not sure sleeping in a public place in violation of the local laws and ordinances is a mandatory part of assembly either.

You can’t have a “peaceable assembly” in my bathroom after breaking in my back window, you’ll get arrested for trespassing (or possibly shot as a threat to me depending on how ‘peaceable’ you really are)… you have to have your assembly somewhere you can legally be to begin with; and sleeping in the park isn’t legal.

They’re not breaking up the assembly by not letting them sleep there; they’re allowed to assemble without the tents for as long as they care to. No tents, no sleeping, sleep somewhere else and assemble and protest in shifts.

I still don’t see a Constitutional violation, or a constitutional right to pitch a tent on any government property in violation of the local ordinances.

gekkobear on January 26, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Just take the sentence at its face value, forget applying it to OWS or whomever else.

“You have a right to protest, but that right is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”

Dante on January 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Froma’s at it again.
What do you not understand about a simple statement like that?
Do you have the right to go to or into someone’s house at 2 am and disturb them and their neighborhood with your protest? No (time and place restriction).
Do you have the right to firebomb the house of someone you disagree with? No (manner restriction).
Do you have the right to steal money from a bank, or anyone for that matter in protest? No (another manner restirction).
For most people, it’s really not hard to understand that there are limitations to your right to protest.

dentarthurdent on January 26, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Yesterday, Issa’s Committee received testimony from National Park Service officials, who said they plan to enforce the no-camping law soon…

Yes, Obama, Holder and the National Park Service will be enforcing those no-camping laws as soon as TEA Party crowds start to camp there or anywhere.

RJL on January 26, 2012 at 3:46 PM