Thursday, March 27, 2008


WASH TIMES - A federal District court ruled that antiwar protesters can rally along Pennsylvania Avenue during the inauguration parade in January. Members of the ANSWER Coalition won the judgment by saying the National Park Service violated their First Amendment rights by excluding them and other visitors from a major section of the route during President Bush's 2005 inaugural parade. The sections were reserved for guests who received tickets from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

"It means thousands and thousands of people who want the war in Iraq to come to an end can line the parade route and let their views be known," said Brian Becker, the coalition's national coordinator. "Whoever is the next president will hear from people that they want the war in Iraq ended and there will be signs and banners saying that along the parade route."

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said in his ruling the inauguration "is not a private event."

"Protesters are entitled to engage in political speech in a public forum during the inaugural parade," he said. "As the Supreme Court has observed, the government may not grant the use of a forum to people whose views it finds acceptable, but deny use to those wishing to express less favored or more controversial views. . . Once a forum is opened up to assembly or speaking by some groups, government may not prohibit others from assembling or speaking on the basis of what they intend to say.".

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