Stop Trump from Restricting Our Right to Demonstrate

The Trump administration is proposing to dramatically limit the right to demonstrate near the White House and on the National Mall. We need to stop these proposed regulations from taking effect. Submit your public comment against this unconstitutional proposal by Monday, October 15.

The federal government has placed this new proposed regulation online for public comment until Monday, October 15 and they must consider and respond to all issues raised in comments when deciding what regulations to adopt.

When you leave your comment, is particularly helpful for you to highlight in your comments your personal experiences using the White House sidewalk and National Mall to demonstrate in the past, and how these new proposed rules will harm your ability to exercise your First Amendment right to free speech in the future.

Items to consider when drafting your message:

  • Your Own Experiences: Highlight your personal examples of how you have used the White House sidewalk and National Mall to demonstrate in the past, and how these new proposed rules will harm your ability to exercise this first amendment right in the future.
     
  • Constitutional Rights: The closure would be a violation of our constitutional right to free speech and demonstration. The closure would violate an earlier court order, which permits demonstrations by at least 750 people on the White House sidewalk.
     
  • Charging for Free Speech: If a fee requirement had been in effect in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic March on Washington and his “I have a dream speech” probably couldn’t have happened.
     
  • Public Funds: Managing public lands for the benefit of the American people is what Congress funds the National Park Service to do. That includes demonstrators just as much as tourists or hikers. While the park service may be strapped for funds, it cannot balance its budget on the backs of people seeking to exercise their constitutional rights.
     
  • Limiting Spontaneous Demonstrations: The right to protest immediately in response to unfolding events is a key part of freedom of speech. As Judge J. Skelly Wright recognized in the ACLU-DC lawsuit against the 1967 restrictions, “Timeliness is essential to effective dissent. Delay may stifle protest as effectively as outright censorship.”
     
  • Security Concerns: As the Secret Service stated when the plans for the new fence were submitted for approval, “Our priority is to maintain the public’s access ... It is in fact a quintessential First Amendment site.” The Secret Service got it right. The park service proposal has no valid basis in security — it’s just an effort to keep the pesky protesters away.
     
  • No Justification: The park service didn’t offer any justification for closing the sidewalk. Even if it were based on security grounds, that wouldn’t pass muster because the White House fence is about to be replaced with a new, taller fence with special anti-climbing features, approved last year specifically to “meet contemporary security standards” while allowing the sidewalk to remain open.

NOTE: When you submit a public comment, your comment and the information you submit may be visible as part of the public record.

To the National Park Service:

The Trump administration is proposing to dramatically limit the right to demonstrate near the White House and on the National Mall.

Stop the Trump administration from restricting our constitutionally-protected right to demonstrate on public lands.