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Arizona, Politics

For a ‘lawmaker,’ Grijalva is kind of fuzzy on the law

Posted: November 16, 2011 at 4:08 am   /   by

Raul Grijalva is a hard-left statist Democrat. He regularly stakes out positions that he can only get away with because he has been running in a solidly blue district (D+6). And even considering the district, he barely squeaked out a victory in the 2010 elections. Grijalva is a true believer, so much so that he has difficulty keeping himself from making statements that would ruin a congressman in a closer district.

As a true believer, he really likes the Occupy movement. So much so that he is complaining about the fact that New York cleaned out the tent city (and with it the tuberculosis and rats) that had Occupied Zuccotti Park for so long:

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, warned that in preventing protesters from camping out in Zuccotti Park, the city has “effectively removed [the protesters’] ability to be there 24/7.”

Well yeah. That was kinda the point.

“The concern to me was that the occupiers can stay there but cannot set up permanent location, which kind of begs the question of, ‘Are they gonna have a daytime presence and then be gone [at night]?’

A city of the United States (albeit belatedly) has decided that it doesn’t want people to build semi-permanent dwellings in a public park. Gasp! The horror!

“I wish there would have been something done to accommodate the ability for them to stay there for the duration.”

Like what? Should Bloomberg have pulled Jimmy Carter’s toolbelt out of mothballs and gone down there to start building houses for them?

While a few Democrats acknowledged that Bloomberg had a responsibility to ensure the safety and health of those in the park, others offered support for the demonstrators and concern that the mayor was going too far.

I hate to break it to Grijalva and his ilk, but the First Amendment does not cover people building permanent tent cities in public places.

No, really, it doesn’t:

This isn’t an entirely surprising outcome given the state of case law on the right to assemble. In short, while the Courts have upheld the right of groups to march and protest and generally always struck down laws or decisions by government entities that attempted to regulate an assembly based on the content of what was being said or advocated (See e.g., National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie), they have also upheld the right of government entities to impose reasonable time, place, and manner regulations on speech as long as it was applied in a content neutral manner. In fact, the Supreme Court dealt with a protest similar to the Occupy movement back in 1981 and issued a ruling that seems to clearly decide this issue.

Beginning in 1981, a group calling itself the Community for Creative Non-Violence began setting up a tent city in Lafeyette Park across the street from the White House to, they said, bring attention to the rise of homelessness under the less-than-a-year-old Reagan Administration. The National Park Service, which controls the park since it’s national land, attempted to limit the groups protests by limiting their permit to prohibit sleeping in the park. The group challenged the permit and, after two rounds of argument at the District Court and Court of Appeals level where the Park Service found its permit restrictions upheld by the District Court but shot down, by the Court of Appeals,  the Supreme Court ruled, in Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, that the Park Service’s regulation did not violate the First Amendment and that it was a content neutral time, place, and manner regulation. This was in 1981, remember, and this was a 7-2 decision, with only Justices Marshall and Brennan dissenting.

As Justice White noted at the time, even if one assumed that overnight sleeping in a park is a form of expression entitled to protection that doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to regulation . . .

Normal Americans, when made fully aware of the character of the Occupy movement, are horrified. Go on, Rep. Grijalva—just keep expressing your true feelings. Eventually, even the people in your district will be given pause by what it is that you support.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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For a 'lawmaker,' Grijalva is kind of fuzzy on the law