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News Was the peaceful assembly constitutional?

  1. Sep 26, 2009 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2009 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Constitutional?

    The video doesn't show anything that explains the context of the situation, so we have no way of answering your quesiton from it. Do you have any other sources that actually describe the context?

    Also, this is politics....moving.
  4. Sep 26, 2009 #3
  5. Sep 26, 2009 #4
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. Sep 26, 2009 #5
    Re: Constitutional?

    I'm quite familiar with the situation as I live near Pittsburgh, have owned businesses there, and maintain a number of local business and personal relationships.

    The size and nature of protests during the Pittsburgh G-20 were widely speculated. The event was widely publicized and scheduled closely to recent events at the UN. Police from surrounding areas were on alert as were emergency personnel.

    The police have been credited locally as acting in a professional manner and praised for a good job of containing vandalism.
  7. Sep 26, 2009 #6
    Re: Constitutional?

    Who was crediting them as such? Left to guess, it sounds like the opinions of the people being protested against, much like the Iranian government's account of their efforts to squash public assembly there just recently.
  8. Sep 26, 2009 #7
    Re: Constitutional?

    According to the AP, the Mayor of Pittsburgh praised police.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5izJGY1GNeNYgNG6q1N0bsXCVfBeAD9AUQVH80 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Sep 27, 2009 #8
    Re: Constitutional?

    Surely you don't consider him anywhere close to a neutral observer in this?
  10. Sep 27, 2009 #9
    Re: Constitutional?

    Did the AP report question his statement or accuse him of covering up for his department?

    I consider the Mayor of Pittsburgh to be the representative of the citizens of Pittsburgh. The police work for the Mayor and the city. The Mayor and police are responsible for both the protection of Pittsburgh (people and property) and are subject to legal action for violation of civil rights of protesters.
  11. Sep 27, 2009 #10
    Re: Constitutional?

    Of course not. Do you not comprehend the distinction between a news report and an opinion piece? Did you not bother to read the whole article? I'm figuring this conversation would go better if you did.
    So, as you consider him the representative; am I to take it that this leaves you disregarding anyone else's perspective on the matter, be they citizens of Pittsburgh or otherwise?
    Obviously, which is why I can't rightly consider him anywhere close to a neutral observer in this. At least in my experience, I've noticed such responsibility often makes individuals adverse to admitting indiscretions under their authority, particularly if one has demonstrable culpability in them. Have you not noticed the same?
    Sure, just as the the Supreme Leader and police are responsible for both the protection of Iran and are subject to legal action for violation of civil rights of protesters. Of course that doesn't rightly mean much when the individuals being protested against are aligned with those who administer the government. Am I to take it you prefer that such things don't mean much?
  12. Sep 27, 2009 #11
    Re: Constitutional?

    You want to compare the Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA to the Supreme Leader of Iran?
    http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/mayor/html/about_the_mayor.html [Broken]

    Here's Luke:

    "About Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

    Photo of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

    Luke Ravenstahl became the 59th Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh on September 1, 2006, upon the untimely death of Mayor Bob O'Connor. At the time he was just 26 years old. Ravenstahl's ascent to the top of Pittsburgh government began in 2003 when he became the youngest member ever elected to Pittsburgh City Council. After serving only two years on council Ravenstahl was unanimously voted in as City Council President, a post he held for only 8 months before being sworn in as Mayor O'Connor's successor. Ravenstahl was officially elected Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, "America's Most Livable City," in a special election in November of 2007. The 29-year-old Pittsburgh native still holds the distinction of being the youngest mayor of any major U.S. city.

    During his three years in office, Mayor Ravenstahl has taken a City that was on the brink of bankruptcy to a City whose bond rating has been upgraded four times, that has a healthy savings account of nearly $100 million, with a balanced budget and a "no new debt" policy. His efforts have been met with accolades by state overseers.

    Under Ravenstahl, there is progress, job creation and more than $4.8 billion in economic development happening in downtown alone. The Mayor is retooling City government as a partner in this growth. Building permits and all indicators of investment in the City are at an all time high. Union halls are at full capacity and the City's unemployment rate is 2 percentage points below the national average. Despite the national economic downturn, Pittsburgh regularly garners national attention for its ability to survive and thrive.

    Thanks to Mayor Ravenstahl's commitment to sustainability, Pittsburgh is becoming the black, gold and green city. Pittsburgh has become a national leader in green building, a hub for clean energy businesses, and home to top environmental education programs. Under Ravenstahl, the City hired its first Sustainability Coordinator, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, and Urban Forester. Recent green accomplishments include adoption of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, expansion of single-stream recycling City-wide, and membership in the EPA Green Power Partnership in recognition of significant renewable energy purchases. The Mayor's Green Building Agenda offers reduced interest rates on qualifying business loans for projects that achieve certification under the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED program. One of 25 Solar America Cities, Pittsburgh will host the first Northeastern Solar Cities conference in October 2009, as well as begin the first of five solar installations at a City firehouse.

    Mayor Ravenstahl's Blueprint for Pittsburgh's Renaissance III, builds on the City's new economy. The plan emphasizes development of Pittsburgh's riverfronts and fosters and feeds the City's green initiatives. With a focus on continued revitalization of the City's neighborhoods the renaissance aims to keep Pittsburgh as "America's Most Liveable City" as well as one of its safest and cleanest cities. The Blueprint invests in the education of our children through the Pittsburgh Promise - an innovative student scholarship program co-created by Ravenstahl to improve our school system and expand the City's tax base. Mayor Ravenstahl, the first Pittsburgh Mayor to have a computer in his office, has made technology a top priority. Ravenstahl embraces technology to improve services, cut costs and solve problems in new ways and realizes the importance of establishing Pittsburgh as a technology and research business hub. Mayor Ravenstahl has made diversity a priority as well instituting programs to make our workforce as diverse as the City itself.

    Mayor Ravenstahl is a 1998 graduate of North Catholic High School, located in the Troy Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He received his B.A. in Business Administration from Washington and Jefferson College. He graduated with honors in December, 2002.

    Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his wife, Erin, live in Pittsburgh's Summer Hill neighborhood and are members of Holy Wisdom Parish. They welcomed their first child, Cooper Luke, in October 2008.

    Mayor's Office
    Room 512,
    City-County Building
    414 Grant Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219
    Phone: 412-255-2626
    Fax: 412-255-2687
    E-mail "
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Sep 27, 2009 #12
    Re: Constitutional?

    I didn't, and don't. Rather, I'm comparing the you argument presented here to those supportive of the Supreme Leader of Iran's recent efforts to squash public assembly.
    I'm at a loss as to what point you saw in posting any of that, as none of it addresses the subject at hand. I'm sure I could find glowing biography of the the Supreme Leader of Iran off an official Iranian website too, but it wouldn't make me any less disturbed by his efforts to squash public assembly there.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Sep 28, 2009 #13
    Re: Constitutional?

    I believe Luke is a fair man - so do the citizens of Pittsburgh as well as the local and national press.

    Do you have anything to post that would convince anyone the Mayor of Pittsburgh was biased against the protesters or unfairly biased for his police force?
  15. Sep 29, 2009 #14
    Re: Constitutional?

    It's simple: one can use the 1st amendment as long as it complies with the 9th amendment.

    Don't know what the 9th amendment is? Believe me, you're not alone.

    Millions of people know about the 1st amendment and brag about the extent of their civic knowledge, screaming into loudspeakers to broadcast their outrage as they're forced into the back of a police cruiser.

    People also have a right to peace and quiet (yes, they do). The 9th amendment says you can't construe the 1st amendment to deny or disparage the right to peace and quiet (it really is that simple!) Likewise, one couldn't construe the right to peace and quiet to deny or disparage free speech. The difference? There's so much territory in between that the latter case can't touch (peacefully wearing t-shirts or holding signs).

    So why the confusion?

    Would you expect a corporation or neighbor to stay within the law if they didn't know all the property regulations? I wouldn't, and neither would I trust a citizen to exercise their rights appropriately if they knew just a few.

    The thing is, everyone knows the 9th amendment implicitly, if not explicitly: it's the feeling of being wrongfully deprived of something. And I believe most thieves wouldn't steal if they felt as bad as their victims did. It's a trivial matter to steal a car stereo from someone you care nothing about, and equally easy to shout profanities across a crowded plaza or to stretch a protest banner across a busy street: all are done in ignorance of the rights of the victims. They're illegal because ignorance of the law is not an excuse, at least not in the USA.

    And yet there's outrage when a professor is arrested for raising a fit on his front porch, or when a protester is detained for the "mere crime" of using a loudspeaker.

    Think about that the next time you see somebody arrested, seemingly just for speech or assembly. Consider whether it's narcissistic to think that one solitary amendment is all one needs to justify one's actions, when there are nine others that might challenge and/or trump that singular refrain.
  16. Sep 29, 2009 #15
    Re: Constitutional?

    Yet another argument one can find Iranians making in defense of their Supreme Leader's recent efforts to squash public assembly there.
    I am still at a loss as to how anyone could reasonably watch the video posted and claim otherwise. There were reports people suggesting as much in the very article you presented too, but I get the impression you are convinced to ignore anything of the sort. If that is not the case, what evidence would you consider the minimum to sway your position here?
    I'm rather sure it is not nearly that simple. Can you cite any authoritative source to back your claim?
  17. Sep 29, 2009 #16
    Re: Constitutional?

    The ninth amendment does not confer substantive rights in addition to those conferred by other portions of our governing law. The ninth amendment was added to the Bill of Rights to ensure that the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius would not be used at a later time to deny fundamental rights merely because they were not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

    -Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  18. Sep 29, 2009 #17
    Re: Constitutional?

    Yeah, JRDunassigned, that is my understanding as well. However, I am still interested in knowing how Supercritical came to believe otherwise.
  19. Sep 29, 2009 #18
    Re: Constitutional?

    Peace and quiet is a fundamental right, and as such is covered when the 9th amendment is "triggered" (like in the OP story). So what's your point?

    Don't patronize.
  20. Sep 29, 2009 #19
    Re: Constitutional?

    I've no interest in condescending you, I'm only looking to firmly establish the facts of this matter. So, again; can you cite an authoritative source to back your claim? As it stands in contradiction to my own understanding, as well as the statement from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which JRDunassigned cited, I'm not rightly in a position to take you at your word here.
  21. Sep 29, 2009 #20
    Re: Constitutional?

    The Sixth Circuit quote indeed backs my claim, although you've attempted to hijack it for your purposes.

    It is very clear: the youtube link in the first post shows a guy shouting at cops to disobey their "unconstitutional orders" because the cops are "trampling" on the crowd's 1st amendment right to assembly. I'm paraphrasing, but the guy repeatedly says "We're just trying to stand here."

    But as I've noted, there's a host of unenumerated rights protected by the 9th amendment (though technically they're not "9th amendment rights"), to include: the right of private citizens and business owners to peace and quiet. You can't just assemble anywhere, anytime. The guy is angry because he feels wronged. He can shout the exact words from the 1st amendment and be accurate in his quotation, but mistaken in the interpretation.

    The Bill of Rights is not a blank check: the 9th amendment (with other clauses) is there to stop people from making overdrafts.

    Shouting "fire" in a crowded theater is another example: doing so "denies or disparages" the right of your fellow man to life (the enjoyment thereof) and the right of the proprietor to the smooth operation of his establishment. This is somewhat different, however, because the rights to life and property are already enumerated by the 5th amendment. It shows the mechanic of the 9th, though.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2009
  22. Sep 29, 2009 #21


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    Re: Constitutional?

    I saw this on the news the other day. There were two protests, one with a permit and one without. The one without a permit got dispatched, which I am assuming is the one in this video.
  23. Sep 29, 2009 #22
    Re: Constitutional?

    What exactly did YOU see in the video? Were the police beating people with night sticks or shooting rubber bullets?

    How many bloody protesters did you see? Did you hear the laughter and taunting before the "voice" came on?

    Again, support your comments.
  24. Sep 29, 2009 #23

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Re: Constitutional?

    No. The Supreme Court does not see any of the rights spelled out in the Constitution as absolute rights. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." Time, place, and manner restrictions on the right to assembly are consitutional if the restrictions:
    1. serve an important governmental interest
    2. are narrowly tailored to serve that interest
    3. are content-free (i.e., do not suppress a particular message)
    4. leave open ample alternative means for communication.

    The Ninth Amendment has nothing to do with the Supreme Court's time, place, and manner tests for constitutionality. The Ninth Amendment is not mentioned in http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0487_0474_ZO.html", for example.

    Some articles on time, place, and manner restrictions on First Amendment rights:
    http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2007/may2007/may2007leb.htm#page20 [Broken]

    Case law:
    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/faclibrary/libraryexpression.aspx?topic=time_place_manner [Broken]

    Google "time, place, and manner restrictions" and you will find more to read.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  25. Sep 29, 2009 #24
    Re: Constitutional?

    Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated "The ninth amendment does not confer substantive rights", which leaves me with no reason to believe the "right to peace and quiet" is conferred by the ninth amendment, and at a loss as to how you came to believe otherwise. While you have suggested that the ninth amendment makes using a loudspeaker is a crime, am I to take it you incapable of citing any authoritative source to back this claim?
    Can you cite a law which requires public individuals engaging in public assembly in Pittsburgh to get a permit before doing so, or some other legal grounds for driving them off?
    I watched the whole thing and saw what was presented as you are free to as well, so I won't bother writing an essay about it. What I didn't see was any legal basis for the actions of the police. Am I to take it you are not aware of any either?
    I never suggested any such things, and hence am in no position to support anything of the sort. Am I to take it those are what you consider the minimum to sway your position here?

    That said, I did see another video from Pitt showing pollice with nightsticks sacking a couple of people, towards the end here:


    Also note the policeman in the final portion of the video seems rather hostile towards the question of "could you explain what's happening... why we have to disperse?" So, I am still left wonder, is there any legal basis for the police's actions against the citizens in these videos?
  26. Sep 29, 2009 #25
    Re: Constitutional?

    You introduced a different video - this one is near the Pitt campus. The better video shows a dumpster being rolled down the middle of the street.

    Better yet, have you ever seen any of the street videos after a Pitt football victory or the Steeler's Super Bowls?

    The Pittsburgh police deal with out of control students all of the time.

    I challenged your posts because the comparison of the Pittsburgh Mayor and police to the Iranian post-election riots was unfair. The Pittsburgh officers are well trained and do a good job of protecting the students as well as property.
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