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Supreme Court says Secret Service agents are immune in Bush protest lawsuit

May 27, 2014

Washington Post

Supreme Court says Secret Service agents are immune in Bush protest lawsuit

Screw the First Amendment!!! Well at least that's how the Supreme Court seems to feel!!!

And of course the reason the Founders gave us the 2nd Amendment is because they know that there would routinely be Supreme Court cases like this one.

Supreme Court says Secret Service agents are immune in Bush protest lawsuit

By Robert Barnes, Tuesday, May 27, 9:12 AM E-mail the writer

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit alleging that Secret Service agents treated supporters of President George W. Bush differently than critics could not go forward.

The court ruled unanimously that the agents were immune from suit because they had good reason to move the protesters farther away when the president decided to dine on a patio after a 2004 campaign event in Jacksonville, Ore.

There is no precedent that says agents engaged in crowd control have a First Amendment obligation to ensure that crowds with different viewpoints be kept at comparable locations when they develop a security perimeter, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.

“Nor would the maintenance of equal access make sense in the situation the agents confronted,” Ginsburg wrote.

It was one of two rulings the court made Tuesday that said law enforcement officials deserved immunity for their actions.

In the other, the court was also unanimous that West Memphis police officers had not acted unreasonably in shooting and killing a man who had led police on a wild, high-speed chase in two states. In both cases, the court overturned rulings by lower appeals courts.

In the Secret Service case, the agents’ job was complicated by an impromptu decision Bush made to dine al fresco. Two groups were assembled nearby. Between 200 and 300 people unhappy with the president gathered in their assigned spot on the street and sidewalks immediately adjacent, while a group of Bush supporters collected a block away.

About 15 minutes after the president was seated and a noisy protest began, the anti-Bush crowd was moved farther away, while the supporters were left where they were. When the motorcade departed, Bush drove past the supporters, but the protesters were not on the route.

Seven protesters sued Secret Service agents Tim Wood and Rob Savage, saying the unequal treatment violated free speech rights. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the protesters allege that it was one of more than a dozen instances in which demonstrators were treated differently based on whether they supported or opposed Bush.

But Ginsburg said it was clear from maps and diagrams of the incident that the pro-Bush protesters could not have endangered the president from their vantage point.

The protesters, on the other hand, “were within weapons range, and had a largely unobstructed view, of the president’s location.”

The Secret Service case is Wood v. Moss . The case from West Memphis is Plumhoff v. Rickard .