Lots of outrageously outraged e-mails flowing in about this, although it’s interesting to me mainly as a First Amendment curio. The footage comes from Jim Moran’s health-care town hall on Tuesday night. The question: Can a congressman bar signs, or certain types of signs, from an event at which he’s speaking? The answer (and the ambiguity) turns, I assume, on whether the event is “public” or “private.” It’s a public school and Moran is very much a public official, but recall that Claire McCaskill evidently got away with imposing a “no signs” policy at her own town hall where the incident with the Rosa Parks poster happened. That makes me think either there’s some sort of public/private wrinkle to these meetings that we’re missing or that banning signs is valid as a “time, place, or manner” restriction on certain forms of speech. But if that’s so, why does the guard here seem to distinguish between signs with images on them and signs that are text-only? Help me, constitutional scholars and law-school grads, you’re my only hope!
The sign itself is actually stupid. And the cutesy little caption about FEMA camps doesn’t inspire confidence either.