New Law Makes it Illegal to Protest in Obama’s Presence-Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
This forwarded message says that HR-347 has been passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. There were growing concerns that this new law could end freedom of speech set down in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and make the act of protesting in the presence of the President a felony and that the Secret Service has the power to arrest and detain protesters.
The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (HR-347) is a real law but it not certain as to how far the U.S. Government plans to enforce it.
HR-347 was introduced by Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL) on January 21, 2011 and after fourteen months in the committee process it was passed and signed into law by President Obama on March 1, 2012.
A spokesperson from Congressman Rooney’s office told TruthOrFiction.Com that the bill was was introduced at the request of the Secret Service for a clarification of a jurisdiction for agents assigned to the protection of the President. The spokesperson said that, For example that if someone were to jump the fence at the White house the Secret Service would not have jurisdiction over the trespasser. Prior to this law the jurisdiction would have fallen on the Washington D.C. Police.
A spokesperson from Congressman Rooney’s office told TruthOrFiction.Com that the bill was was introduced at the request of the Secret Service for a clarification of a jurisdiction policy for agents assigned to the protection of the President. The spokesperson said that in case someone were to jump the fence at the White house the Secret Service would not have jurisdiction over the trespasser. Prior to this law the jurisdiction would fall upon the Washington D.C. Police.
Many of the forwarded eRumors contain a video link of Fox News Contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano saying that this law allows the Secret Service to define the borders of “no free speech zones” and at the request of the person that they are protecting can ban the protesters. Judge Napolitano said that this law actually abridges the First Amendment.
The First Amendment says, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Speculators also drew concerns that this new law could criminalize protests put on by the Tea Party rallies or Occupy movement in any area where the President might be present. On March 8, 2012 The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) addressed that myth on their blog and said that “H.R. 347 doesn’t create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.”
Below is the text of HR-347 in its final version:
One Hundred Twelfth Congress
United States of America
AT THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
the third day of January, two thousand and twelve
To correct and simplify the drafting of section 1752 (relating to restricted buildings or grounds) of title 18, United States Code.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011′.
SEC. 2. RESTRICTED BUILDING OR GROUNDS.
Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
-`Sec. 1752. Restricted building or grounds
`(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
`(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
`(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
`(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;
or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
`(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is–
`(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if–
`(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
`(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
`(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
`(c) In this section–
`(1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area–
`(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds;
`(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
`(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
`(2) the term `other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’.