The online Public News Service had a story that described how the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out in favor of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and what PNS wrote was his "First Amendment Freedom of Expression." The article quotes ACLU Executive Director Tod Story as saying that “the government-designated areas for protesters to gather probably violated the First Amendment.”
Story was further quoted as saying that “The First Amendment ensures peaceful assembly in reasonable proximity to the subject being protested or supported.”
However, Cliven Bundy's fight for property and speech rights might end up causing the ACLU to get a little cow patty mess on its shoes.
The ACLU, usually the first to step forward to protect (progressive) American citizens' constitutional rights regarding freedom of speech and property, has been late to the game when it comes to defending those rights for cattle ranchers.
I guess they were too preoccupied making sure that no pro-lifers or supporters of traditional were exercising their First Amendment Right to freedom of expression.
They prefer to defend in court those who would limit pro life citizens freedom of speech through what is referred to as “Bubble Laws” keeping pro lifers at a distance from those they would attempt to reach who are either entering or leaving abortion clinics. They love to tag pro-lifers with the extremist label. See: Walter Hoye v the City of Oakland, Ca.
It seems to me what they are doing is attaching themselves to what they have decided is a good public interest story and they want to get in on the winning side in order to make themselves look like they care about tradition and agriculture.
The so-called Bubble Zone Law, which was created to shield pregnant women and other customers when they enter abortion clinics from the information being distributed by pro lifers on fetal development, is one of their own laws. They even give awards on that subject named after law professor Edward Sherman.
In other words, they are speaking against their own Bubble Law protection by shielding the media and government officials from the ranchers' justifiable anger.
I wish we could have bubble laws on our land-line phones to protect us from annoying salespeople.
Of course, you’ve noticed that the ACLU is very quiet when strikers organized by the SEIU encircle the front doors of hospitals during wage negotiation disputes. Those employees can look pretty scary with their heavy placards and horns and shouts.
The ACLU has a whole section on its website regarding their work to protect so-called Reproductive Freedom, read: aborting babies. They also include in that stance protecting pregnant women from extremist legislators and private citizens who, using their Constitutional Rights of freedom of expression, struggle to distribute pamphlets and educational information on the developing preborn child.
In the Cliven Bundy situation, both the government and the ACLU are trying to label the ranchers and their supporters as some sort of wild-west extremists in order to cover-up the land grab that the government is initiating.
The ACLU, though appearing to be supportive of free speech rights, is still limiting those rights to areas designated by bureaucrats against citizens. You can talk, ranchers, but you have to exercise those rights only where we, the bureaucrats, demand that you be allowed to stand and address your oppressors.
Does the Bill of Rights belong to every citizen or are it become merely a set of tools in the hands of bureaucrats to protect themselves against citizens?
Spero columnist Camille Giglio is a resident of California.