Didn’t a federal court just slap down Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo for this kind of viewpoint-determined enforcement? In fact, the court explicitly cited the cheerleading by the two New York execs for Black Lives Matter protests as the crux of his injunction against their restrictions on indoor worship services. And yet, here’s de Blasio on CNN yesterday having not learned a damned thing from that experience, apparently carving out a protest exemption for Black Lives Matter while restricting all other viewpoints from similar access.
At least that’s how this sounds, although it might be a little ambiguous:
.@NYCMayor Bill de Blasio tells Wolf Blitzer that he is banning all large gatherings in New York City except for Black Lives Matter protests.
Wolf Blitzer follows up by asking about the U.S. Open. pic.twitter.com/KGsnAdXDhK
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 9, 2020
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK: Well, it’s all about health and safety first, and this is obviously the thing that President Trump doesn’t understand that we don’t just decree that we want things to happen regardless of the human impact. We actually look at the science, we look at the data. And the data is telling us it is not time for large gatherings. Just like we said we would not have indoor dining in New York City because we saw the really painful reality in Texas and Florida and other places.
You got to be smart. And what Dr. Fauci keeps telling us is pay attention to the facts and the facts lead you to the safe solution. So, now we don’t need big events anytime soon. We got — we’ve had a lot of success making New York City healthier. We got to really stick to that plan.
BLITZER: So describe large events for us. What does that mean?
DE BLASIO: It means like street fairs, it means, you know, big outdoor concerts, and it means things like parades. You know, things here in this city can mean not just thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. It’s just not time for that now.
BLITZER: What about protests if people want to march on Fifth Avenue, are they going to be allowed to do so?
DE BLASIO: Look, Wolf, this is always an area of real sensitivity. If you’re just talking about health, we would always say, hey, folks, you know, stay at home if you can. But we understand at this moment in history, people are talking about the need for his historic changes.
I mean today in New York City, you know, recognizing the power and the meaning of the message Black Lives Matter which we did in front of Trump Tower today, this is a historic moment of change. We have to respect that but also say the people, the kinds of gatherings we’re used to, the parades, the fares, we just can’t have that while we’re focusing on health right now.
Here’s the question, though; did de Blasio actually say that he would allow Black Lives Matter protests? Not quite, although he certainly seems to imply it. At the very least, de Blasio hails his own participation in a public demonstration yesterday. However, if de Blasio says he meant “respect” and “recognizing the power” while barring those gatherings, he could perhaps make that argument.
Too bad a reporter wasn’t on hand to ask that question, however. Here’s Wolf Blitzer’s follow-up question:
BLITZER: What about the U.S. Open? I’m curious. I love going to the U.S. Open. I love tennis. What’s happening with that?
You have got to be kidding me. An American mayor tells a national news anchor that he’s shutting down street gatherings and protests and hints that he’s going to infringe on the First Amendment on the basis of political viewpoint, and the first and only reaction to it is can I still watch my tennis matches? This comes from the network that routinely stokes hysteria about Donald Trump’s supposed war on civil liberties in practically everything he does, warranted or not. When it comes to Democrats, however — even those explicitly rebuked by a federal court for trampling on First Amendment rights not three weeks ago — CNN’s featured anchor can’t be bothered to even speak questions to power.
Assuming that de Blasio tries this, it won’t last long. This is Con Law 101 stuff; you cannot discriminate by viewpoint over access to public protests. It’s so basic that it’s amazing that de Blasio and Cuomo blundered on it the first time, let alone suggest they’ll try it again here. The first time New York City approves one demonstration but shuts down another, a federal judge will be waiting with a figurate bat for Hizzoner.
In the meantime, Blitzer needs a new soundtrack for The Situation Room. This tune by Cream (one of my favorites) should work nicely.