Congress Infringing on First Amendment Rights with HR347?

Well, this is alarming. This bill just passed unanimously in the Senate, and nearly so in the House:

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011’’.

RESTRICTED BUILDING OR GROUNDS.
Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
§ 1752. Restricted building or grounds (a) Whoever—
(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; (2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; ‘‘(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or ‘‘(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;
or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
‘‘(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a)
is—‘‘(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for
not more than 10 years, or both, if—
‘‘(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or ‘‘(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and‘‘(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.

‘‘(c) In this section—‘‘(1) the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area— ‘‘(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; ‘‘(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or ‘‘(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and ‘‘(2) the term ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’’.

At first glance, this seems like a fairly innocuous bill. However, the sections in bold are what concern me. Though suspiciously vague, it seems as though this is another bill written in response to very specific events, without any consideration for the broader implications. Though this time, the legislation passed, with overwhelming support and with little media attention.

Those who have taken note of the bill, are speculating that this could make protesting illegal, especially at events like Party Conventions and UN summits. I’m inclined to agree, given the sections that I’ve highlighted in bold.

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About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

5 Responses to Congress Infringing on First Amendment Rights with HR347?

  1. Z says:

    We could ask Obama to veto – if he did, it would be fun.

    • Brittany-Ann says:

      It would be, but considering that both chambers of Congress well exceeded the two-thirds majority required to override a veto, it’s not possible. It’s up to someone to challenge the law in court.

  2. #222 says:

    most assuredly someone or some organization will challenge this law (?). they had better!!!!!

    but would this even have been proposed or even deemed necessary if mob mentality had not taken over in Madison, Wisconsin and during the Wall Street demonstrations?

    Sooo many protested the VietNam war in DC and yet it did not turn into an abject takeover with reported rapes and robberies. And at that time you could ask just about any of the protesters what they were against or why they were there and they would have a unified answer (well i admit some were there just for the chicks and the weed so their answers may have differed)…the same goes for the civil rights marchers of that same period…….now most of the folks out there just have a couple of talking points and then they are like befuddled zombies roaming from protest to protest.

    As for Z’s comment about the president vetoing this law……even if he could he definitely would not do so because he and the secret service have just been given even more discretionary power. just in case you have not noticed he seems to be evolving into more of a one man show with no real regard to the process of checks and balances or of judicial review.

    I am glad that I came across your little blog here Ms Beemer. I am glad that you are concerned with 1st amendment rights. I hope your concerns carry over to all forms and areas of free speech………writen, airwaves, internet or smoke signals in addition to the right to assemble (peacefully)

    Keep a watchful eye on whomever is in power and question their history and i mean their true history, not just their political voting record. Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative.

    Regards

    #222

  3. Rachel says:

    A conspiracy theorist could posit that the Occupy protests were “organized” on purpose so that laws like this could be passed…

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