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2475Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts

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  • Greg Cannon
    Aug 16, 2007
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      Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts

      Thu Aug 16, 9:31 PM ET

      CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A couple arrested at a rally after
      refusing to cover T-shirts that bore anti-President
      Bush slogans settled their lawsuit against the federal
      government for $80,000, the American Civil Liberties
      Union announced Thursday.

      Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, were
      handcuffed and removed from the July 4, 2004, rally at
      the state Capitol, where Bush gave a speech. A judge
      dismissed trespassing charges against them, and an
      order closing the case was filed Thursday in U.S.
      District Court in Charleston.

      "This settlement is a real victory not only for our
      clients but for the First Amendment," said Andrew
      Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of West
      Virginia. "As a result of the Ranks' courageous stand,
      public officials will think twice before they eject
      peaceful protesters from public events for exercising
      their right to dissent."

      White House spokesman Blair Jones said the settlement
      was not an admission of wrongdoing.

      "The parties understand that this settlement is a
      compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses
      and risks of litigation and is not an admission of
      fault, liability, or wrongful conduct," Jones said.

      The front of the Ranks' homemade T-shirts bore the
      international symbol for "no" superimposed over the
      word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said
      "Love America, Hate Bush." On the back of Jeffery
      Rank's T-shirt was the message "Regime Change Starts
      at Home."

      The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential
      advance manual makes it clear that the government
      tries to exclude dissenters from the president's
      appearances. "As a last resort," the manual says,
      "security should remove the demonstrators from the event."
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