Duo Kicked Out of ‘05 Bush Rally Lose AgainOctober 12, 2010 - 10:23 AM | by: Lee Ross
Over the objections of a pair of justices, two people who were excluded from a 2005 rally headlined by President George W. Bush will not have their appeal heard by the Supreme Court, it was announced Tuesday.
Leslie Weise and Alex Young arrived at the Denver rally in a vehicle sporting a “No More Blood for Oil” bumper sticker. That caught the attention of the White House advance staff which had a policy of excluding people from events who disagreed with the president.
Their appeal also caught the attention of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said the court should have granted review. “I cannot see how reasonable public officials, or any staff or volunteers under their direction, could have viewed the bumper sticker as a permissible reason for depriving Weise and Young of access to the event,” Ginsburg wrote and was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Weise and Young were ejected from the rally site even though they claim they never disrupted the event nor intended to do so.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyers helped Weise and Young file a lawsuit claiming their First Amendment rights were violated when they were kicked out a public event only because someone thought their political views were different from the president’s.
“There are few questions more important to the foundation of this country than whether government officials may discriminate against individuals for the expression of their viewpoint,” ACLU lawyer Christopher Hansen wrote to the court. His brief argued that a lower court ruling against the pair was an outlier and “injects uncertainty into the clearly established law that had, until now, prohibited government officers from engaging in viewpoint discrimination…”
A lawyer for one of the two staffers who was sued said there is no conflict with the lower court ruling noting that the Bush rally on Social Security was held at a privately owned location. It was also noted that there is ongoing litigation against other staffers–who were White House officials not volunteers as in this case—that would make for a better appeal to the high court.
This later argument may be why the court stayed out of this dispute. As is custom, there was no explanation from the justices but Ginsburg offered hope that the issue be given further review later on “and may offer this Court an opportunity to take up the issue avoided today.”