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Is there a loophole in the 1st Amendment?

  1. Feb 12, 2008 #1

    russ_watters

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    The first Amendment, as we all know, protects against government endorsement or support of a particular religion via the establishment clause. But what of political speach? I'm speaking, of course, of the town of Berkeley endorsing an anti-war protest organization and their message at the expense of a Marine Corps recruiting office. Some of the specific actions of the city council are probably illegal, though unenforceable as I'm sure the Marine Corps won't sue them, but what about the general idea of a government entity explicitly aiding a political action entity? It seems to be pretty straightforwardly against the principles of political freedom on which this country was founded, but how, exactly, is government neutrality toward political entities enforced?

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-02-12-berkeley-marines_N.htm

    As a side-note, Code Pink looks to me to be on shaky legal ground anyway. They are listed as a 501(c)3 organization, piggybacking on an environmentalist group for funding purposes. But political non-profits are 501(c)4. I don't know how big of a deal that is, though.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_Pink
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501(c)

    Thoughts?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2008 #2

    chroot

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    If they pay the rent for the recruiting office, then they're allowed to be there. If the citizens of Berkeley don't like it, they should just, you know... not go in it. Seems like the Marines would just leave if they never managed to recruit anyone anyway.

    - Warren
     
  4. Feb 12, 2008 #3

    russ_watters

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    Yes, I agree, but that's not the issue I'm trying to discuss. The city council passed a resolution officially endorsing the protestors and their effort to drive the Corps out and aiding that effort by providing them a special parking permit for their vehicle directly in front of the office.
     
  5. Feb 12, 2008 #4

    chroot

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    The protestors are allowed to be there, too. I think it's all pretty stupid, and the city council needs better things to do.

    - Warren
     
  6. Feb 13, 2008 #5
    The federal government pays so-called matching poiltical campaign funds.
     
  7. Feb 13, 2008 #6
    I didn't read anywhere where it said the city council endorsed Code Pink. All I read was
    It didn't disallow the recruiting station, which would be blatantly illegal. Now saying they are "unwelcome intruders" is sort of a gray area. As a government entity, it is discouraging the station, which would seem to be illegal because it creates an environment of hostility towards a viewpoint (which would be stifling freedom of speech, not religion - not sure why you included religion, unless it's to ask why speech isn't treated the same as religion). However, many government institutions endorse/discourage political endeavors (calling for a national day of prayer, funding NEA exhibits which some may consider immoral, etc.), so it's a tough call. As long as they don't create laws which apply only to the station and not others, i don't see a legal reason why they couldn't do (though it is bad form for any governmental office to endorse anything, even if it is done all the time - city governments endorsing an anti-war policy, etc.)
     
  8. Feb 13, 2008 #7
    I disagree with the OP - the federal government sponsors the marine corps which in turn sponsors a particular political belief, overtly pro government.

    Why shouldn't the opposing view have equal treatment.
     
  9. Feb 13, 2008 #8

    russ_watters

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    One resolution did not name Code Pink specifically, but stated support for organizations that would impede the recruiting station's activities. But that is Code Pink they are talking about.

    The other resolution does name Code Pink. It gives them a special parking permit -- and does something else I didn't know before: it waives noise regulations for them. That's more clear-cut than what I thought before. It is unConstitutional - the Constitution grants equal protection under the law. The council is waiving the law for one entity for the expressed purpose of infringing on the rights of another entity.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/07/berkeley.protests/index.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkel...troversy#_note-DC_City_Council_Passes_Motions
     
  10. Feb 17, 2008 #9
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