A D.C. judge’s order barring a tenacious antiabortion protester from setting foot anywhere in the city has touched off a vigorous debate over free speech and political dissent in the nation’s capital. …

“Banning him from the District because he’s sitting in a tree or speaking out, I think is absurd,” said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group that is taking up Grogan’s case. “He’s strange, but do you know how many strange people enter D.C. every day who probably shouldn’t be here?”

Magistrate Judge Karen Howze signed the order Tuesday, telling Grogan to stay out of the city until a court hearing Feb. 25. The order is more sweeping than what prosecutors had sought. The U.S. attorney’s office had asked that Grogan be banned from the Capitol grounds, House and Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. …

It is “a pristine example of an overbroad condition,” said David L. Hudson Jr., a law professor and First Amendment scholar at Vanderbilt University. “They need to go back and draft a more narrowly tailored restriction — meaning something that would comport with the First Amendment.”