White House Settles First Amendment Suit

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Some of you may recall the recent discovery of a 103-page White House manual on how to “handle” protesters. The “Presidential Advance Manual” goes into great detail about how to prevent protesters from showing up at a presidential rally, and how to curtail their activities if they are pesky enough to show up, anyway.

Jeff and Nicole Rank, you will also recall, were two protesters who showed up at a presidential rally in Charleston, West Virginia, in 2004, and they were arrested for wearing T-shirts that had a line through the ersatz president’s name on the front, and on the back of one were the words “Love America, Hate Bush.” The Ranks were arrested for trespassing when they were asked to leave and refused to do so.

The city of Charleston, suddenly remembering the U.S. Constitution, later apologized to the Ranks. Jeff and Nicole Rank, however, did not believe that the Charleston police were the masterminds of their arrest, so, with the ACLU, they sued the director of the Office of White House Advance for violating their First Amendment rights. The ACLU recently announced that the case has been settled and the U.S. government will pay the Ranks $80,000. Sometimes, it’s a pleasure to see your tax dollars at work.

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