In 2012 Congress passed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act (HR 347). This legislation made it a federal crime to "...willfully or knowingly" enter a "restricted area' or "....impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions."
Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul, along with Michigan Representative Justin Amash and Georgia Representative Paul Broun, opposed this bill on the grounds that outlawing "disruptive" conduct could be used to justify criminalizing political protests. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Dr. Paul was right again. Reason magazine has the details:
Signed into law by President Obama, this supposed tweak of a pre-existing law effectively criminalized protest of any person under the protection of the Secret Service, a select group which includes both major parties' front-runners for the presidential nomination. During the general election, the nominees of both parties are automatically assigned Secret Service protection, but Hillary Clinton, as a former first lady, is entitled to a Secret Service detail for the rest of her life, and Donald Trump has had a detail assigned to him since last November.
Dahlia Lithwick and Raymond Vasvari wrote in Slate that "the law makes it easier for the government to criminalize protest. Period." They also assert the words "disorderly" or "disruptive" could be defined down to mean almost anything with regards to "impeding government business."
HR 347 is the reason that protesters have been physically removed from campaign events. The President of Valdosta State University (VSU) admitted that in a letter to the VSU "community" regarding police officers' forcible removal of protesters from a Donald Trump* rally held on campus;
The Trump campaign, together with the Secret Service and other law-enforcement officials, had responsibility for such decisions, not VSU. As we reminded the campus via email last Friday, current federal law (HR 347) does not allow for protesting of any type in an area under protection by the Secret Service.
Read the Reason piece here
Read more about how HR 347 here.
* Campaign for Liberty does not endorse or oppose any candidate for any office. We do support the right of the people to engage in peaceful political activity, including demonstrations, in support of or in opposition to political candidates and elected officials.
Tags: Free Speech