I have spent several days mulling over the recent Supreme Court decision in the free speech, 35 foot barrier case from Massachusetts where the court found that the free speech rights of the sweet old grandma were violated by the 35 foot barrier. They said that, because she was soft spoken and didn’t shout, 35 feet was too far away from the clinic’s patients for her to be heard.
I freely confess to not being a legal scholar. I did go to law school, graduate, take the bar and pass, practice law for about ten years but apparently none of that is enough to enable me to make sense of the gibberish in the Court’s decision.
Everyone knows how the free speech rights from the 1st amendment originated. One of the major things the founders took away from their time in England was that citizens needed to be able to criticize their government without fear of being hanged. As with many other Bill of Rights rights, free speech has been expanded and tempered by the Court over the last two centuries. We still are not permitted to freely threaten others and claim free speech rights for example.
But in the instant case, the Court has created something I have never previously seen in any free speech case. No one at any point claimed that grannie was being deprived of her opportunity to speak. No one tried to muzzle her or intimidate her, stop her from carrying a sign or from speaking or shouting to anyone passing by. But the Court seemed to find that free speech means nothing if you can’t force people to listen to it. Apparently, since the Clinic’s patients could walk down the middle of the 35 foot barrier, that left then roughly 15 from either side which was too far, in the Court’s opinion, to hear what the soft spoken grandma had to say.
I can only conclude from this that all these years that I have been writing letters to the editor of my local paper, my free speech rights have been violated everytime the paper chose not to print my letter because by doing so, they deprived me of my audience. When the crazy guy at the main corner of downtown, is shouting his brand of scripture and everyone is crossing the streets to keep their distance from him, they have, according to the Court’s wisdom, been violating his free speech rights. Being able to freely stand on the corner and shout all he wants is only half the equation now. By walking the long way around the corner, everyone has been depriving him of his audience which now is the second half of the newly created free speech test.
I remember the days in law school when we parsed every word of old Supreme Court opinions, searching for meaning and intent. Although I won’t be around to see it, centuries from now, law students will be looking at decision of the Roberts court and will come to the conclusion that marijuana was legalized nationally long before it actually happened. Students will look at each other and smile and say, how did anyone ever think a corporation had the same rights as a human being? The robot teacher will pause and say that’s why we study these cases so we can see how easy it is to take a wrong turn and end up in a logically, ethically, judicially indefensible place.
I’ve given myself a neck strain by shaking my head as much as I have over reading what passes for logic in the US Supreme Court. So much of our law making in this country is based on the worst case scenario. 99 people out of 100 do something the right way, but one knucklehead does it wrong so that’s how we draft our laws, based on the behavior of the knucklehead and not the good guys. Except when it comes to guns and abortion. In those two instances, the behavior of the knuckleheads is completely ignored, almost to the point of pretending it never even happened. Instead, we legislate assuming everyone is an angel. Can anyone explain that to me?
Poor Merriam Webster and Oxford, having to reprint their dictionaries to include a new illustrated definition of stunt. It will include a picture of John Boehner and an explanation of his lawsuit against the President. No other definition will be necessary.
Recently, a group opposing the liberal open carry laws on the books in Texas held a rally in a Home Depot parking lot. In recognition of the difficulty involved in repealing such laws in the wild wild west, the group has persuaded several different businesses to prohibit firearms in their stores, which they are still allowed to do. Home Depot has not adopted this policy. In fact, a corporate spokesman was quoted as saying that Home Depot permits its customers to do anything allowed by law. But, he added, Home Depot does not permit solicitation of its customers at any time. So, there you have it. Apparently, it is more bothersome to have someone hand you a leaflet while entering a store than it is to have some legally entitled citizen carrying an AK-47 in Home Depot who then gets overly offended by some perceived slight and decides to light up the plumbing section. I weep for us as a society. Anyone want to split a case of hand grenades?
I wish I could be an observer on the day when Rick Perry, John Kasich and so many other narrow minded egotists are ready to meet their creator and enter heaven. I will be overjoyed to see that, instead of being grandly welcomed, they will be greeted by a slap to the face and an admonishment from their creator. He will not send them to Hell because, while they are misguided and smugly superior, they are not evil. So they will get a nice spot, outside the gates of Heaven, where they get to watch all the worthy enter and get their due rewards. They get no rewards, just standing there for eternity watching the worthy. Their mistake?? God will ask them, why, if they opted to pick and choose the verses of the bible that they believed and felt necessary to impose on all others, how did they miss the central message of all his teachings, whether it be old testament or new? Treat others as you wish to be treated. If they had only learned that lesson, their eternity would be so much nicer.
I lost my Spenser boy a few weeks ago and it still hurts. He was my best pal for 16 years and he never lost faith in me. He trusted me as no one ever has and as no one probably ever should have. I see reminders of him all the time and there is a hole in my life. Nighty night spenser boy, sleep tight for all time until we can play again some day.
My babydoll got married yesterday. Her husband is a lucky guy. She’s a wonderful woman, so much inside her yet to be expressed. She’s going to be a wonderful mom, learning so many lessons from all the things she didn’t get from her mom. her whole life is ahead of her and cliche or not i really hope that today is the first day of the rest of her life.