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Trump Rallies and the misunderstood First Amendment


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I just spent an inordinate amount of time listening to talk radio and watching cable news shows opine, incorrectly, on the First Amendment (whilst visiting with an under-the-weather relative). So knowing the vast reach of our Forum, I am going to post here and straighten this whole thing out once and for all (Or at least get it off my chest).

OK-The First Amendment simply says that CONGRESS shall make no law abridging the right to free speech. After 2+ centuries of Constitutional amendments (like the 14th) and Supreme Court interpretations, the First Amendment is now understood to say the GOVERNMENT shall make no law abridging free speech.

Is Donald Trump Congress or the government? Of course not. THERFORE, he is free to impose whatever rules he wants at his rally's (dress code, hand salute, signs, whatever he wants-it's his friggin event, he gets to make the rules). And, the citizens who dont care for what he is saying have NO constitutional right to disrupt his rally or to interfere with his right to conduct it however he wants to.

End of discussion.

IF protesters want to protest, they must so outside the rally venue.

IF the talking heads' interpretation of free speech were right, then anyone could interfere with any group's efforts to assemble and express their thoughts, as loudly and inappropriately as they want. In other words: dont like the Catholic religion, go into their service every Sunday and disrupt it, dont like a lecture being given on a nearby campus, attend and yell until it shuts down.

So all the First Amendment means is, for instance, that no government agency can establish standards defining what we are allowed to say. The First Amendment has a very, very, very limited scope and application. Which is, of course, totally consistent with the Framers' belief that people would do best with as little government control of their speech and thoughts as possible.

I am no fan of the Donald or his rabble-rousing speeches. I am just saying that the First Amendment gives me zero authority to enter his rally and to disrupt it, or even to enter wearing a Rubio T-shirt or to hold up a Cruz sign inside the rally.

I feel better aleady-And I know that, since this is a private (Non-government) Forum, with its own rules, the moderators can delete this post and I will have suffered no violation of my First Amendment rights:).

Edited by Kitcat
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I agree with you. And I despise this crook as well. I think the protesters did themselves not a favor. The people who hate Trump don't need the protest and the folks who adore him will only be confirmed in their belief (faith?).

 

That said, while they are entitled to enforce rules for their rallies I think it is unwise for the Trump campaign as well to remove or manhandle individual peaceful demonstrators. After all, this guy strives the be "the government" and such an attitude does not bode well for the First Amendment if he should become the Man. He made some related comments already. The incident with the guy punching the face of somebody being led out by police also shows what kind of brain dead hater folks Trump attracts. Maybe not all but to speak with Trump "And some, I assume, are good people".

Edited by slomove
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I agree - the First Amendment and "freedom of speech" only applies when one of parties involved is the congress/government. If the government is not involved it's just citizens expressing themselves. In this case it boils down to manners and being polite.

 

To my knowledge there is no law that says I can't go to church on sunday morning wearing an anti-religion T shirt.......the only practical thing that keeps this from happening is peer pressure and respect for the institution. I think where the trump thing has come off the rails is that trump himself has shown disrespect and contempt for so many and that they feel compelled to push back and shout him down. He expressed himself and they countered.

 

It's the same with a KKK rally........they get a permit and they say what they say and fly their flag and they are legally within their rights to do so. And likewise those that disagree with the KKK can stand across the street with their own flag.

 

I think the old adage "if you can't take it, don't dish it out" and trump wants a one sided conversation. It doesn't work that way in public life. It may work that way in his private business but once out in public all bets are off. Or as my dad would have said - "don't sh!t where you eat."

 

dave

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It should also be noted that Trump and his supporters are also wrongly claiming that their First Amendment rights have been violated

 

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted at 3:44 AM - 12 Mar 2016 :

 

The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!

http://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/708619775153475584?s=17

 

 

Between having protesters arrested and claiming he would introduce legislation to make it so he can sue the media for saying bad things about him, sounds like he doesn't much believe in the 1st Amendment

 

 

 

.

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Which Donald Trump is being discussed. He seems to say one thing to get some more attention, the when challenged he waffles. I guess that makes him a politician. That said, he's not my choice.

I'm currently reading The Narcissist next door (by Jeffrey Kluger) and the first sentence in it is this "It can't be easy to wake up every day and discover that you're still Donald Trump"

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I just spent an inordinate amount of time listening to talk radio and watching cable news shows opine, incorrectly, on the First Amendment (whilst visiting with an under-the-weather relative). So knowing the vast reach of our Forum, I am going to post here and straighten this whole thing out once and for all (Or at least get it off my chest).

OK-The First Amendment simply says that CONGRESS shall make no law abridging the right to free speech. After 2+ centuries of Constitutional amendments (like the 14th) and Supreme Court interpretations, the First Amendment is now understood to say the GOVERNMENT shall make no law abridging free speech.

Is Donald Trump Congress or the government? Of course not. THERFORE, he is free to impose whatever rules he wants at his rally's (dress code, hand salute, signs, whatever he wants-it's his friggin event, he gets to make the rules). And, the citizens who dont care for what he is saying have NO constitutional right to disrupt his rally or to interfere with his right to conduct it however he wants to.

End of discussion.

IF protesters want to protest, they must so outside the rally venue.

IF the talking heads' interpretation of free speech were right, then anyone could interfere with any group's efforts to assemble and express their thoughts, as loudly and inappropriately as they want. In other words: dont like the Catholic religion, go into their service every Sunday and disrupt it, dont like a lecture being given on a nearby campus, attend and yell until it shuts down.

So all the First Amendment means is, for instance, that no government agency can establish standards defining what we are allowed to say. The First Amendment has a very, very, very limited scope and application. Which is, of course, totally consistent with the Framers' belief that people would do best with as little government control of their speech and thoughts as possible.

I am no fan of the Donald or his rabble-rousing speeches. I am just saying that the First Amendment gives me zero authority to enter his rally and to disrupt it, or even to enter wearing a Rubio T-shirt or to hold up a Cruz sign inside the rally.

I feel better aleady-And I know that, since this is a private (Non-government) Forum, with its own rules, the moderators can delete this post and I will have suffered no violation of my First Amendment rights:).

 

One person's rights end where another's begin.

 

As that pertains to the First Amendment, you are free to say anything you want in response to someone else's speech. However, once you start drowning them out or otherwise preventing them from speaking, you are no longer within the right of free speech protected by the First.

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All very interesting but the First Amendment is irrelevant to your points.

 

For instance: Google, Facebook, Twitter are not government entities. So they can ban whatever they want, including "hate speech" and we can all stuff it.

 

However, if the government said to Google, you must regulate "hate speech", then (since the government IS the ONLY subject of the First Amendment), that ban might run afoul of the 1st Amendments protections.

 

Ditto loud, impolite speakers: the First Amendment has no position on them, tho common decency might. But if the President ordered that no one could shout their loud support of AOC in Washington DC, then, again, since he's the government his order would violate the Constitution.

 

The Founding Fathers were mostly concerned about government over reach. (And such things as keeping religion out of government, and protecting states rights). They did not address the degree to which private citizens and organizations imposed rules on themselves.

 

My basic point is simple: the First Amendment is incredibly limited-it just applies to the government.

Edited by Kitcat
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My basic point is simple: the First Amendment is incredibly limited-it just applies to the government.

 

Your point is correct but it's also irrelevant when it's not enforced or understood by the general public.

 

It's sort of like speed limit enforcement. Everybody has their own understanding of how it works and how much you "can speed". Is it a true limit? Is it 5 over? 10 over? Go with traffic? The law has been so muddled in public opinion that even cops aren't sure how to proceed and will rarely if ever give a ticket for under 5mph (yes it does happen, yes it is legal to get a ticket for it, yes I've seen it first hand). Then the stuff goes to courts for arbitration there.

 

If you ask the general public today, ~98% of people who follow politics at all will tell you that there has been some kind of constitutional crisis over the last ~10 years (covers all parties) but it was never enforced and nobody got "in trouble" for it in the executive branch even with blatant and documented violations.

 

 

Laws and policies and rights only hold meanings when they are enforced.

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It all seems pretty simple to me.

"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."

 

Since ONLY Congress authors any bills that might become law, the wording is accurate. The only difficulty comes from people who misinterpret the term "free speech", and believe they can say whatever they like without consequences or repercussions.

 

edit: 1st amendment as it pertains to free speech is fully enforced; Congress has made no laws abridging free speech.

 

 

REF:

Schoolhouse Rock video "I'm just a bill":

Edited by Sean
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It all seems pretty simple to me.

"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."

 

Since ONLY Congress authors any bills that might become law, the wording is accurate. The only difficulty comes from people who misinterpret the term "free speech", and believe they can say whatever they like without consequences or repercussions.

 

edit: 1st amendment as it pertains to free speech is fully enforced; Congress has made no laws abridging free speech.

 

 

REF:

Schoolhouse Rock video "I'm just a bill":

 

Unfortunately it's not quite all that simple or otherwise courts and supreme Court wouldn't struggle and debate with this over the years. Pretty much all Constitutional wording has been open to interpretation of intent. Justified or not. Just look at how 2nd amendment has been executed and enforced over the years.

 

Here is a good breakdown of rulings over freedom of speech that set precedent

 

 

https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does

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Thanks for the refresher Kitcat. these things are too often misapplied.

this tread reminds me of a very eloquent exchange between a student protester at a Bush Sr. speech. As security was moving to silence the student the president stopped them and proceeded to calmly debate & reason with the student exposing the fallacies in his protest.

It has sadly been a long time since we've seen this from any politician.

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Vovchandr:

 

I'd add NY Times v. Sullivan (1964) to your Sup Ct free speech list. That case established a different and higher standard for winning a libel case against a public individual (say the U.S.Prez), as opposed to John Q citizen. That decision insulates the publisher of falsehoods about such a public person, unless actual malice is proven (good luck with that). In other words, incorrect statements, honestly made, are not actionable. Which is why Trump complains about the "horrible" N.Y.Times decision constantly in his daily "fake news" laments (as he is constitutionally permitted to do:)).

 

The made-up internet political hit-job stories that have become so popular of late probably are examples of actionable, not protected speech.

 

There isn't always a bright line between what is and isn't protected. In NYT, the court opted to err on the side of encouraging open, if flawed, debate.

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