Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

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I.P. Daly
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Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby I.P. Daly » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:23 am

I understand that the First Amendment basically only applies to government actors.

However, if hecklers are forcefully removed by private citizens from a private venue where an elected official is giving a public speech, do the hecklers have any recourse under the First Amendment? Would they even have a legitimate tort CoA such as battery?

Variation:
What if the hecklers are forcefully removed by the Secrete Service, from a private venue, where the president is giving a public speech?

I'm simply trying to figure this out for my own edification, and I'm not seeking legal advice (there's no case in controversy, I'm not a heckler, etc.).

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Samara
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby Samara » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:28 am

The Secrete Service? Ew. I don't want to hazard a guess as to what they do.

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I.P. Daly
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby I.P. Daly » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:38 am

Samara wrote:The Secrete Service? Ew. I don't want to hazard a guess as to what they do.


:mrgreen:

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kalvano
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby kalvano » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:39 am

1) Not really. The venue may be public, but the actors were private, not state.

2) That's a weird gray zone. They have 1A rights, but the Secret Service has broad discretion when it comes to the President.

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Always Credited
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby Always Credited » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:43 am

Guessing since I haven't really started studying, but probably depends on what the hecklers said - was it protected speech or not?

If protected speech, then you know the drill.
If not protected speech, then maybe 1st Am. violation but, as Kalvano said, chances are there wouldn't be a good COA because its the SS.

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bns_77
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby bns_77 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:55 am

In a private establishment, you can be told to GTFO for any reason that isn't discriminatory under Title VII or some state or local ordinance.

The Duck
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby The Duck » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:57 am

We had a secret service agent come talk about this...I forget some of the details...but when a protectee (like the President) appears in public the forum is temporarily designated as a special kind of federal exclusion area. That brings offenses within it under federal law and removes anyone's private right to be there, including the property owners. This is why for example, they can compel you to go through security screening prior to entering.

Because it is effectively no longer public at that point (even if it was before), and you don't have a permit to demonstrate on federal property, you can be removed by the secret service at will. It's the same as if you attempted to demonstrate in the Capital building or the White House itself. Also, from a practical standpoint good luck getting any court to entertain this kind of CoA.

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I.P. Daly
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby I.P. Daly » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:07 am

Ah, that makes sense. I imagine the POTUS probably would not be able to give many public speeches if he did not have special protections.

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Always Credited
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Re: Free Speech-"Private Action" Question

Postby Always Credited » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:08 am

derp, missed the private venue caveat. herp. B- inc.




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