Bush’s attempts to stifle free speech

Lawyers in Denver are arguing that President Bush has the right to remove from an audience people who disagree with him.

The case involves two people ejected from a taxpayer-funded Bush speech two years ago.

Leslie Weise and Alex Young were removed from a Bush address on Social Security after a staffer for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., pointed them out as suspicious because they had arrived in a car with an anti-war bumper sticker.

Weise and Young sued, arguing that the ouster violated their First Amendment right to free speech.

Attorneys for Michael Casper and Jay Klinkerman, who were involved in removing them, have filed an appeals brief saying the ouster was legal.

“The president’s right to control his own message includes the right to exclude people expressing discordant viewpoints from the audience,” says the brief, filed by attorneys Sean Gallagher, Dugan Bliss and others representing Casper and Klinkerman.

The White House declined comment, citing the ongoing lawsuit. Three White House staffers have also been sued in the case for ordering the ouster.

Gallagher said the White House was not involved in developing the argument.

The appeal centers on “whose speech is at issue — the president’s or the plaintiffs’?” the brief says.

Weise responded, “My read of the Constitution does not give the president free speech rights greater than the citizens he serves.”

Martha Tierney, attorney for Weise and Young, described the argument as “pretty amazing.” She said it claims her clients’ mere attendance forced the government to adopt their views.

Casper’s attorneys cited a case, Sistrunk vs. City of Strongsville, involving the first President George Bush. There, an appeals court supported the removal of a person with a Bill Clinton button from an event organized by the Republican Party.

The speech organizers were trying to “convey a pro-Bush message to the media by use of pro-Bush speakers and largely pro-Bush attendees,” they quote the case. They wanted to ‘send the media a message’ that Bush would win; to convey the message that ‘Strongsville Trusts George Bush.’ ”

But Tierney said that the cited case doesn’t apply because it was a Republican Party event, “and a private party can control speech.” The Denver speech was open to the public and paid for by taxpayers, she said.

If the argument that the government can exclude people based on their views is supported by the appeals court, “it guts the First Amendment,” Tierney said.

Alan Chen, a University of Denver law professor, agreed.

“The whole purpose is to protect dissenters from the government,” he said. “That’s an inherent element of the democratic process.”


(Reach Ann Imse at imsea(at)rockymountainnews.com)


  1. Carl Nemo

    I must compliment you Cashel on your posts. I’ve focused on them for some time and you are always on-the-mark with your analysis. As far as censorship and crowd/audience control is concerned it’s been going on for quite some time, with each presidential convention becoming more restrictive and folks either being arrested or expelled from gatherings where these elected mattoids speak. If we could go back to 1880 or so if these elected candidates or those running for office pumped out their screed to the gathered audience they would be assaulted with rotten fruit, maybe even dung and if they were bad enough they might have been run out of town either on foot or tarred and feathered on a rail. I’m not kidding either; that’s the kind of starch Americans had within that made this country great both through their sacrifice and labors. Nowadays everyone is a politcally correct, overly polite, over-educated “wimp”…! We as a nation are going down hard, an ugly scenario indeed! Most people will be living by the railroad tracks in tarpaper shacks, spearing rats with fire-hardened sticks, wondering where they went wrong…! 😐

  2. Cashel Boylo

    Hitler’s financiers provided free beer for anybody who would attend a Nazi Party Beer Hall Rally but tolerated no opposition or even discussion. Nazi Stormtroopers severely beat any dissenters.
    In the 1923 “Munich Beer Hall Putsch” Hitler stormed an opponent’s rally with 600 SA Stormtroopers, set up a machinegun aimed at the exit doors, fired a shot and declared the Munich and Berlin governments deposed.
    The Munich Putsch failed, but Hitler held to the free beer and thuggery tactic, by 1933 it succeeded and the whole world paid the price.
    As the Bush Dictatorship further unravels, we may see some similar tactical development at his meetings.
    Not to mention a Bush Putsch.

    Cashel Boylo