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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

On Restricting Free Speech

The present governance of the City of Marco Island, as if it has nothing to do in light of the failed STRP and the resulting health crisis, is seeking to impose an ordinance restricting the right of free speech.

Specifically the present governance seeks to “… consider its current ordinance requiring residents to obtain a permit before distributing or posting "any commercial or political sign, advertisement, circular, notice, statement, banner, emblem or design" within city parks.

This is yet another unnecessary action by the present governance that purports to do one thing by erroneously using something irrelevant as a basis.

The present governance’s legal enabler supports the move by quoting the U.S. Supreme Court decision Hill vs. Colorado. This ruling has nothing to do with obtaining a permit. This ruling merely restricts protestors – anyone for that matter – from approaching another person for the purpose to pass literature, or to advise them in any way.

The case of Hill vs. Colorado arose because of the type and nature of protests near to abortion houses. So as to protect the right of the abortionists to conduct their trade, the state of Colorado adopted a law where the protestors can approach a person entering the abortion house only under certain restrictions. Namely, "the statute requires that anyone within 100 feet of a medical facility's [euphemism for an abortion house] entrance needs to obtain permission from a passerby before approaching them within eight feet to pass out literature, educate, or counsel them."

However, the U.S. Supreme Court, realizing that it was in effect restricting our most cherished right, went to great lengths in explaining what the protestors could do. The ruling ensured that the following was permitted:

The buffer zone does not completely cut-off the protestors' means of communication with the public. The statute leaves open "alternative communication channels" - there is no limit on the number of protestors; there is no restriction on the noise level; and there is no adverse effect on the ability to read any protesting signs.

The consent requirement of the statute is not a prior restraint on speech. The consent required by the protestors from the passersby does not impose any form of censorship or filtering of the protestor's message.

The decision by the present governance to implement an ordinance complying with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Hill vs. Colorado) of what can not be done AND what CAN BE DONE will be made irrespective of that decision or any other decision. Their guiding force is politics and their beloved commercialization special interests. Hence, it is no surprise that the legal enabler is using a mostly irrelevant decision. But it sure sounds good and official.

The present governance should be prepared for yet another legal challenge if there is one word of this unnecessary ordinance that does not comply with what can NOT and with CAN BE DONE as dictated by the laws of this country (outside of Marco Island of course).

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