If you were going to show up to a Bush event to threaten the President, would you do it wearing a “Hate Bush” T-shirt? Apparently, some people think so:
The Ranks said they didn’t violate any laws by wearing their “Love America, Hate Bush” T-shirts to the official presidential appearance, for which they had tickets. “That’s not why the charges were filed,” Pauley said Thursday. “The people hosting the event” said the Ranks “were causing a disturbance.” Pauley said he didn’t know what kind of disturbance the Ranks were causing, “but that’s the reason our officers were called.” The Ranks said they didn’t do anything besides wear their T-shirts and sing the national anthem…After a Gazette story about the Ranks ran Wednesday, dozens of people from all over the nation flooded them with offers of monetary support, and several offered to put them up if their legal battle got drawn out, so they wouldn’t have to spend so much money on motels. . .
In September, the American Civil Liberties Union filed for a federal injunction barring the Secret Service from telling local police to keep protesters out of sight and earshot of President Bush’s public appearances. The case was dismissed after the Secret Service agreed with the ACLU, and the dozens of incidents like the Ranks’ slowed to a trickle, said ACLU lawyer Witold Walczak. But as Bush has begun making more visits to battleground election states, the number of complaints has picked back up, Walczak said, and the ACLU is determining whether it needs to take the Bush administration back to court.
I saw this kind of policy in action last summer as an ACLU legal observer at a Bush appearance in Pennsylvania where Secret Service told the protesters to move back further than had been agreed upon ahead of time. Fortunately, we were able to get an emergency injunction from a judge holding the Secret Service to the previous understanding.