When “our” law enforcement authorities arrest Americans domestically engaged in the non-violent exercise of our First Amendment rights – not privileges but rights – to avoid violence by others intent upon defeating our exercise of those rights, it is very bad. When a Federal District Court affirms the propriety of such police conduct, it is even worse. Yet that appears to be what the Federal District Court did. According to the re-blogged article,
This past May, Federal Judge Patrick J. Duggan, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, granted Wayne County’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit. In his ruling, Judge Duggan stated that “the actual demonstration of violence here provided the requisite justification for [the Wayne County sheriffs’] intervention, even if the officials acted as they did because of the effect the speech had on the crowd. [Emphasis added.]”
The First Amendment provides,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, restrictions on enactment – and enforcement – of such laws by the Federal Government apply to the States no less than to the Federal Government.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States [Emphasis added.]
Presumably, “enforcement” of a law which had not even been enacted is also prohibited.
If some of we “the people” were to assemble peacefully to exercise our rights of free speech while exercising our rights to petition our Government for a redress of grievances, could our Government legitimately arrest them on account of violence from others intent upon silencing them? I would not think so, but the District Court’s decision could well permit it.
Islamists do not even tolerate freedom of speech as we know it in their own homelands. Americans cherish our constitutional freedoms (or at least once did) in our homeland. Regardless of what may be its declining popularity, however, no part of the First Amendment is properly the subject of either popularity contests or judicial amendment. The freedoms it guarantees remain among of the most important of the articulations of guarantees provided in the ten articles of the Bill of Rights. It is not the function of our courts, our Congress, our executive branch or our States to abridge any of those rights.
There are acceptable ways to change the Constitution. Article V of the Constitution provides ways to amend it. The process is difficult, and it was intentionally made so. If the Constitution is to be changed, which generally seems a bad idea, that is the only acceptable way to do it; judicial fiat is not an acceptable alternative.