(Alicia Powe, WND) WASHINGTON – After 30 years in Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is foggy about what kind of speech is protected by the First Amendment.
She believes that it prohibits “venom” from her disfavored political group, the so-called “alt right.”
She has argued the National Park Service should enforce her request to deny a permit to Patriot Prayer, a conservative group that plans to hold a rally at San Francisco’s Crissy Field this weekend.
The group’s free-speech rights should be revoked, the minority leader argued, because “protecting people” from the right-wing group’s “venom” is the Park Service’s “first responsibility.”
“The Constitution does not say that a person can … yell ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater. If you are endangering people then, you don’t have a constitutional right to do that,” Pelosi claimed in an interview with a San Francisco TV station.
The California Democrat apparently was trying to paraphrase an opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in the landmark free speech case Schneck v. United States (1919), about yelling “fire” in a public arena.
“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic,” Holmes wrote in his opinion.
But as National Review’s David French pointed out, denying a permit to any group because a public official claims the group’s speech is “venomous” is unconstitutional. Regardless how offensive a group or individual’s speech is, they have the same right of access to the park as any other expressive organization.
“While the law obviously prohibits any member of the alt-right or any other group from engaging in violent acts, the Constitution does not permit the state to shut down an event simply because other people threaten the speaker,” French explained. “That’s an extreme form of heckler’s veto, and law enforcement is obligated to protect speakers, not silence controversial speech.”
French also noted that Holme’s interpretation of the First Amendment is erroneous.
“Anyone who quotes Schenck is quoting bad law. In fact, it’s one of the most odious free speech decisions in the court’s history. The court upheld the Espionage Act conviction of the secretary of the Socialist Party of America for writing and distributing a pamphlet opposing the draft during World War I. Schenck could never be sent to jail for this conduct today.
“The proper standard is outlined in Brandenburg v. Ohio, and that case is completely silent regarding the wolf threat. Under Brandenburg, speakers can advocate violence even in front of an armed crowd unless their speech is ‘directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action,’” he said.
The House minority leader has also exhibited a troubling pattern of referring to the current president as former President Bush.
In February, she said: “We’ve seen nothing where we can, where — where I can work with President Bush on,” prompting a quizzical look from Rep. Maxine Water, D-Calif., who was standing nearby.
In April during an interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Pelosi was attempting to lambaste President Trump.
“Whoever wins understands the priorities of the American people, and they are not what President Bush … I’m so sorry, President Bush. I never thought I’d pray for the day that you were president again,” Pelosi joked in an attempt to clean up her mistake.
In May while speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Pelosi referred to the current president as Bush.
“And a lot of those people voted for George … for, what’s his name,” Pelosi asked the moderator apparently struggling to remember Trump’s name.
Again Pelosi mistook Trump for Bush during a weekly press conference.
“He operates this way: First he tries to charm you. President Bush tries to charm you,” Pelosi said while answering a reporter’s question, before saying that President Trump needs sleep.
When handed a note from an aide informing her of her blunder, Pelosi tried to downplay her reoccurring gaffe, claiming that it’s hard for her to call Trump “president.”
Pelosi’s Democratic colleagues are increasingly distancing themselves from the 77-year-old minority leader, who has served California’s 12th congressional district since 1987.
In a survey of 20 Democratic House candidates, only one – a former Senate staffer from Orange County, California – would state support for the congresswoman staying on as leader of the House Democratic Caucus.
Eighteen others who participated in the survey declined to say if Pelosi should maintain her position. One said he would vote for someone other than Pelosi.
Democratic lawmakers argued in during a meeting in June that Pelosi is a liability.
In the meeting attended by at least a dozen Democrats including Reps. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond and Tony Cardenas, participants strategized on how to replace Pelosi, insisting the embattled minority leader must go if Democrats hope to win the House back in 2018.
“There is a consensus, I think, that we can reach in the caucus that allows for a new leadership team to be put in place in a time that’s well before, hopefully, November of next year,” Rice told Politico after the hour-long meeting.
The American Mirror noticed in May Pelosi was “slurring her statements, uttering unintelligible gibberish, and repeating words over and over” during a news conference.
“‘Trumpcare means heart-stopping premium increasing for anything from asthma to cancer and the list goes on — on the alphabet,’ Pelosi said.
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