Precinct 333

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Isn’t This Swell Of NYC?

You’ll have to excuse me. I was under the strange impression that the same First Amendment that applies here in Texas also applied up north in New York. What is this stuff about the city “agreeing” to allow freedom of speech on a public sidewalk? I thought that matter was settled law.

NEW YORK — The city has agreed that First Amendment activities including leafleting, petition-gathering, picketing and holding press conferences can occur on public sidewalks in front of schools, a civil rights lawyer said yesterday.

The agreement between the city and lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union was approved March 16 by a federal judge who was scheduled to preside at a trial over a 2003 lawsuit brought by a youth advocacy organization, the Ya-Ya Network, said Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU’s associate legal director.

The lawsuit was brought after students working with the group alleged they were threatened with arrest outside schools for handing out literature telling other students about their rights to keep personal information from military recruiters.
The NYCLU said it was “essential” for such student activities to be allowed to occur outside schools.

Now I will concede that I don’t like the group that is making use of the very rights that the military defends, but we even have to allow losers like these the freedoms that are the birthright of all Americans. And if, as the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. DesMoines, students do not shed their freedoms at the schoolhouse gate, how can anyone argue that they lack those freedoms before they set foot on campus?

It is cases like these that keep me from issuing a blanket condemnation of the ACLU and its affiliates. They do, in many cases, get it right when it comes to basic civil liberties.


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