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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Federal court affirms limits on Inauguration Day protests

    By Andrea Noble - The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    A federal appeals court on Tuesday shot down protesters’ challenge of regulations that allow Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration Committee first dibs on the location of bleachers along the Friday’s inaugural parade route.

    As a result of the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the inauguration committee can keep set-aside bleacher seats in place at both Freedom Plaza and in front of the Trump International Hotel - locations protesters had sought to demonstrate in during Friday’s parade.

    The decision is a blow to anti-war group Answer Coalition, which has challenged the National Park Services’ allocation of prime space along Pennsylvania Avenue to presidential inaugural committee’s since 2005. The group has argued that the reservation of swaths of Pennsylvania Avenue for the Presidential Inaugural Committee favors the incoming administration over the public and marginalizes and unfairly excludes dissent by preventing public access to what would otherwise be prime demonstration space.

    But the court disagreed, finding that the regulations exclude the Answer Coalition “not because it seeks demonstrate, nor due to the content of the message ANSWER wishes to communicate, but to ensure some premium space for ‘ticketed bleachers viewing and access areas’ as part of the event package reserved for the Inaugural Committee.”

    “The Park Service’s provision for the Inaugural Committee to construct its bleachers, even as 70 percent of the Inaugural route remains available for demonstration permits, is no more content based than the unchallenged provisions reserving areas for portable toilets, media stands, or viewing areas for individuals with disabilities,” wrote Judge Cornelia T. Pillard, in the 30-page ruling for the thee-judge panel.

    Judges Patricia Millett and Sri Srinivasan joined Judge Pillard in the opinion.

    Carl Messineo, legal director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund which represented the Answer Coalition, was disappointed in the ruling, saying it “affirms a discriminatory access” to public space.

    Rather than allowing the space to be open to the public, he said the ruling will allow the Trump administration to charge a fee for ticketed access to the seats, meaning to gain access to that set-aside space a person would have monetarily support the president-elect and be vetted by the committee.

    “The court’s ruling treats these spaces as if it’s spectator space for a Beyonce concert,” Mr. Messineo said. “I don’t think anyone can look at that space on Inauguration Day and not recognize this is government speech.”

    The Answer Coalition has been granted a permit to protest at another site along the route, at the Navy Memorial at Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street NW.

    While all legal options remain on the table for a future appeal, Mr. Messineo said the focus now for the group is hammering out the final logistics for the permitted protest.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    I like this ruling. Thank you Judges.
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