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Response to Coyotl (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 11:16 AM

14. ACLU: Special Advisory for Rally, Know Your Rights: Free Speech and the Right to Protest

 

Know Your Rights: Free Speech and the Right to Protest
ACLUTx.org - The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

Special Advisory for State Capitol Rally, July 2013
The Texas Constitution gives legislators broad authority to remove and/or jail people for even minor breaches of “decorum.” If you do not wish to be removed from legislative proceedings, you should refrain from doing anything that could be construed as disrespectful or disruptive. Conduct that could fall into this category includes: shouting, clapping, or gesturing from public observation areas; physically blocking entrances; engaging in overly argumentative exchanges with legislative staff or other Capitol visitors; and/or otherwise preventing lawmakers from carrying out their business.

THE RIGHT TO PROTEST
The right to protest is a long-standing protection afforded by the U.S. and Texas constitutions. This right is contained both in the freedom of speech and in the freedom to assemble, which protect not only the ability to verbalize protests and engage in symbolic speech such as wearing an armband, but to arrange peaceful marches and protests on certain public lands.

These rights are not unconditional. Because the government has an interest in maintaining peace and public order, it may restrict some protest activities in certain ways.

This Know Your Rights fact sheet is intended for people who want to exercise their right to protest in order to help understand the status of the current law on this topic. However, this sheet does not cover every nuance of the law surrounding protest rights and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, consult an attorney or the ACLU of Texas.

LAWS
The right to protest is protected by both the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”1

The Texas Constitution, in Article I, sections 8 and 27 protects the “liberty to speak, write or publish … opinions on any subject,” and “the right … to assemble.”2

YOUR RIGHTS IN GENERAL
These provisions protect your right to march, leaflet, parade, picket, circulate petitions and ask for signatures, and other forms of peaceful protest. You have the right to express your views in these ways regardless of how unpopular or controversial they may be.

Although these rights are afforded strong protection, how the rights are exercised may be regulated.

RESTRICTIONS
What the government can’t regulate:
The government generally can’t regulate or restrict speech based on its content. Regulation of speech must be unrelated to both the ideas and the views expressed.3

Restrictions based on the ideas or subject matter involve regulating an entire topic of speech. For example, a local ordinance prohibiting all picketing except for labor picketing connected to a place of employment is unconstitutional because it regulates speech based on whether it is about labor.4

Restrictions based on viewpoint affect only one perspective within a larger subject. For example, a public university may not deny funds to a student publication specifically because it holds a Christian viewpoint, while exempting other religious publications from these same restrictions.5

Some content-based restrictions may be allowed if they are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest and are the least restrictive way of achieving that interest.6

What the government can regulate:
Some categories of speech are considered outside of First Amendment protection: obscenity; defamatory language that is false and is intended to harm the reputation of another person; and “fighting words,” or speech that incites imminent lawless action.

For speech outside of these categories, generally the government can place “time, place, and manner” restrictions on speech. This kind of restriction does not depend on the subject of the speech, but on the way it is expressed, and is often created to preserve public order, such as preventing parades from clashing with rush-hour traffic.

These regulations must be narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, must be content-neutral, and must leave open ample alternative channels of communication.7

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Coyotl Jul 2013 OP
northoftheborder Jul 2013 #1
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ismnotwasm Jul 2013 #3
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Coyotl Jul 2013 #9
nolabear Jul 2013 #10
Coyotl Jul 2013 #11
northoftheborder Jul 2013 #12
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