A group of protesters looking to make their message known in Oregon in 2004 were recently successful with their efforts in a federal appeals court. With the win, the protestors can move forward with their civil litigation against members of the Secret Service.
The protesters are miffed at what they perceived to be unfair treatment by Secret Service agents. They were attempting to protest near an Oregon restaurant where President George W. Bush was eating at the time.
The protestors complained that members of the Secret Service forced them to move and protest further away from the restaurant. This, the protesters said, was a direct violation of their First Amendment rights. To make matters, the anti-Bush protesters said that other protestors — those that were for the President — were allowed to stage themselves closer to the restaurant.
Accordingly to the protesters, this change in location made it almost impossible for them to convey their message both to the President and those close to him. The protesters who were for the President were able to convey their message more effectively, according to their complaint.
All three judges in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with the anti-Bush protesters in the case, writing in their judgment that the accusations sounded like viewpoint discrimination.
One of the judges highlighted in the judgment that the Bush White House used a manual that instructed staffers and Secret Service to purposely place protesters that were against the President far away from event locations so their messages would not be heard. However, the judge did not say whether that in fact happened. If it did, the judge confirmed it would be considered a viewpoint of discrimination.
The case could return to a district court where both sides will be able to tell their stories. The protestors will have to present evidence that the Secret Service unfairly targeted them because of their viewpoints while the Secret Service can defend their actions.
Source: Politico, “Anti-Bush protesters win round in appeals court,” Josh Gerstein, April 11, 2012