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Rhode Island to Ban Foreign Flags

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  • ummyakoub
    LET S HOPE THIS APPLIES TO ISRAELI FLAGS AND ZIONIST TRAITORS. Carcieri s bill shocks constitutional scholars The governor s proposed homeland security bill
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2004

      Carcieri's bill shocks constitutional scholars
      The governor's proposed homeland security bill would
      "take the state of Rhode Island back 200 years," says
      one nationally recognized First Amendment expert.
      10:35 AM EST on Thursday, February 19, 2004
      Journal Staff Writer

      DIGITAL EXTRA: Read the full text of Governor
      Carcieri's proposed legislation relating to homeland
      security at:

      Constitutional scholars and First Amendment advocates
      reacted with shock yesterday at Governor Carcieri's
      homeland security proposal, saying it threatens
      protected free speech and assembly in ways not seen in

      No other state in the nation, they said, has attempted
      such an encroachment on civil rights in the name of
      fighting terrorism. And they predicted the legislation
      could never survive a constitutional challenge.

      "When I was reading it in the newspaper this morning,
      my jaw dropped," said Lawrence E. Rothstein, a lawyer
      who teaches political science at the University of
      Rhode Island. "It shocked me that anyone would try

      "Did he do this in writing?" asked Paul McMasters, a
      nationally recognized expert at the First Amendment
      Center in Arlington, Va.

      Carcieri has proposed, among several other steps,
      making it illegal in Rhode Island to "speak, utter, or
      print" statements in support of anarchy or government

      Editor's note: Governor Carcieri has proposed
      legislation that some experts believe would impose
      limits on how Rhode Islanders exercise the five
      freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S.
      Constitution. The Providence Journal today explores
      how the state's citizens use these freedoms daily.
      Carcieri's bill shocks constitutional scholars

      Organized public protests a cornerstone of American

      Restrictions on records would hamper press

      Educators are asking who's to say what can be said?

      In post-9/11 America, tolerance takes on a special

      R.I. Supreme Court will rule on effort to silence
      those with grievances

      Digital Extra: Read the full text of Governor
      Carcieri's proposed legislation relating to homeland
      His proposal would make it unlawful for any person "to
      teach or advocate" a government overthrow, or display
      "any flag or emblem other than the flag of the United
      States" as preferable to the United States government.

      Both acts are plainly protected, the experts said, by
      the First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights,
      enacted in 1791. The founding fathers adopted the Bill
      of Rights, said McMasters, because they "had a very
      passionate desire . . . to have something in that
      Constitution that said what the government could not

      The First Amendment prohibits the government from
      infringing on peaceful assembly, free speech and the
      press. It also prohibits the government from favoring
      one religion over another, and allows people to
      petition the government for redress of grievances.

      "What Governor Carcieri proposes is to take the state
      of Rhode Island back 200 years," said McMasters.
      "Dissent is at the heart of democratic freedoms. From
      Roger Williams on, Rhode Island has always been at the
      forefront of championing freedom of speech in general
      and political discourse specifically."

      JANE KIRTLEY, a professor of media ethics and law at
      the University of Minnesota, has monitored state and
      federal initiatives in the aftermath of the terrorist
      attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

      "But I haven't really seen anything like this," she
      said. "Frankly, it is a throwback to World War I."

      Carcieri's bill would expand on two state laws, first
      enacted in 1919, that criminalize the advocacy of

      At the time, such laws were common, said James A.
      Morone, a political science professor at Brown

      After World War I, he said, "people were sick of
      dealing with foreigners, particularly Europeans, and
      there was a lot of anti-immigration, anti-anarchist
      legislation passed.

      "There was a feeling that immigrants, especially from
      Italy, were labor agitators and unionists and that
      there was a potential for socialism and anarchy,"
      Morone said.

      On Tuesday, Steven Brown, executive director of the
      Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties
      Union, characterized the 1919 laws as dormant and
      "blatantly unconstitutional."

      Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal said the laws had existed
      without court challenge and government abuse for
      nearly a century. He said the lack of prosecutions
      under these laws "points to the tremendous amount of
      discretion that has been employed" by prosecutors.

      Around the country, however, similar laws have been
      struck down regularly as unconstitutional, said

      "Anything that was designed to criminalize advocacy of
      the overthrow of the government was called into very
      serious question by the [U.S.] Supreme Court," she
      said. "So that by the time of the 1960s or so, they
      had been pretty much stricken from American law
      because they so obviously represented an infringement
      on the First Amendment."

      One of the most famous cases is Brandenburg v. Ohio.

      In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the
      conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had been
      convicted under the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism statute
      for advocating violence and terrorism as a means of
      political reform.

      The high court ruled the Ohio law unconstitutional
      since it criminalized the mere advocacy of violence.
      The court ruled that the white supremacist's speech
      was protected since it never rose to the level of

      In other words, says Kirtley, if someone talks about
      taking over the government, that is a protected right.
      "It's another matter if someone is standing there
      armed and saying, 'Let's take it over.' "

      CARCIERI'S PROPOSAL comes amid controversy surrounding
      the USA Patriot Act, a federal law that Congress
      enacted in 2001, six weeks after the terrorist attacks
      of Sept. 11, to protect the country from further

      Many civil libertarians and constitutional advocates
      say the Patriot Act goes too far: allowing too much
      secrecy in government, and curbing civil rights, in
      the name of protection.

      "This is a new twist," Rebecca Daugherty, freedom of
      information service director for the Reporters
      Committee for Freedom of the Press, said after reading
      Carcieri's bill. "I really don't understand the need
      for this. It seems there are probably laws already on
      the books that protect against the overthrow of the

      The most sinister aspect of Carcieri's bill, the
      experts said, is that it seems targeted at quieting

      After the 1991 banking collapse in Rhode Island,
      thousands of outraged credit union depositors
      routinely protested at the State House and followed
      then-Gov. Bruce Sundlun around the state, demanding
      their money and more than a few political heads.

      Under Carcieri's proposal, such civil unrest might be
      viewed as illegal, a point not lost upon William
      Lynch, the state chairman of the Democratic Party, who
      also attacked Carcieri's bill yesterday.

      "Political protest is a fundamental right that we are
      fighting to give to the people of Iraq at this
      moment," Lynch said. "Yet the governor has followed
      Attorney General Ashcroft's lead and has condemned
      protesting as terrorism.

      "This legislation defines terrorism as willfully
      speaking, uttering, printing, writing or publishing
      language that is intended to incite defiance or
      disregard to the laws of Rhode Island," said Lynch.
      "Where would the state be without the brave men and
      women who stood up during the banking crisis to make
      their voices heard?"

      Morone, the Brown University professor, agreed. "We're
      famous as a country where anybody can say anything,
      and that doesn't make us weaker, it makes us
      stronger," he said. "So the real threat, the greatest
      threat to who we are, comes from bills like this one."

      Said McMasters: "It's these very times, when a nation
      is in crisis and facing some very troubling decisions
      and developments, that full participation in the
      governing process should be encouraged, not

      "The whole idea of democracy is that truth and sound
      policy emerges from a diversity of voices, and what
      proposals like this risk is homogenizing the
      democratic discourse and that means that essentially
      democracy is forded. Then we face a very dangerous
      threat with coming up with very dangerous policy . . .

      McMasters said that in the wake of the terrorist
      attacks, "Americans looked to the government to be
      strong and powerful and even arbitrary in the exercise
      of its power to protect us all," and some people are
      willing to sacrifice some rights if they feel they are
      better protected.

      KIRTLEY SAID the First Amendment was under attack in
      the first two years after Sept. 11, 2001.

      "But my own impression is the pendulum has been
      swinging back in the other direction. . . . The
      American reaction that we should at least be able to
      criticize the government has come back to the fore."

      The futile search to date for weapons of mass
      destruction in Iraq has reminded people of "how
      valuable the right to criticize the government is,"
      said Kirtley. "The need to know is critical, of having
      good information, is critical."

      Too often, Kirtley said, "people think of the First
      Amendment as primarily protecting the press and if you
      ask them they'd say the press goes too far, therefore
      the First Amendment goes too far.

      "But if you remind them that it protects their freedom
      of speech, they become quite vociferous."

      With reports from Jennifer Jordan

      DIGITAL EXTRA: Read the full text of Governor
      Carcieri's proposed legislation relating to homeland
      security at:





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