For Immediate Release
Supreme Court Will Not Yet Hear Case Of Denver Residents Ejected From Bush Event
ACLU Continues To Challenge First Amendment Violation In Parallel Lawsuits Against Government Officials
WASHINGTON - The
U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by the American
Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two Denver residents who were ejected
from a speech by President Bush in 2005 for arriving in a car with a
bumper sticker that read "No More Blood for Oil." The lawsuit charged
that the constitutional rights of Leslie Weise and Alex Young were
violated when they were removed from the public event because their
opinions differed with those of the president. The ACLU then filed a
certiorari petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case after a
federal district court dismissed the case and an appeals court upheld
The lawsuit was filed against two
volunteers who removed Weise and Young from the event under the
direction of government officials. The Court declined to hear the case,
but the denial of certiorari in the case against the volunteers leaves
open the possibility that it could eventually hear one of two other ACLU
cases arising from the same incident that were filed against the
government employees who authorized the removal.
In her dissent of the Court's
decision to deny certiorari, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice
Sotomayor, wrote that she could not "see how reasonable public
officials, or any staff or volunteers under their direction, could have
viewed the bumper sticker as a permissible reason for depriving Weise
and Young of access to the event." She added that she could see "only
one arguable reason for deferring the question this case presents.
Respondents were volunteers following instructions from White House
officials," and therefore could be shielded from liability by the
Volunteer Protection Act of 1997. She added, "Federal officials
themselves, however, gain no shelter from that Act. Suits against the
officials responsible for Weise's and Young's ouster remain pending and
may offer this Court an opportunity to take up the issue avoided today."
The following can
be attributed to Chris Hansen, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech,
Privacy and Technology Project and lead attorney on the case:
"While we are disappointed that the
Supreme Court will not review such a clear violation of First Amendment
rights at this time, today's denial of certiorari leaves open the
possibility that the issue will one day come before the Court. The
notion that the government can exclude anyone it chooses from such an
event, just because their point of view is at odds with that of the
president, is unconstitutional and un-American. We are confident that
the wrong done to Leslie Weise and Alex Young will one day be righted."
More information about the case is available online at: www.aclu.org/free-speech/protest-and-president
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