Anti-Protest Law Threatens First Amendment


Dan Parker, Sports Editor

On March 10, 2012, President Barack Obama signed off on bill H.R. 347, officially making it into law. H.R. 347, also known as the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, makes it a federal offense to protest government functions and people that are protected by the Secret Service. This includes protesting in front of the White House and at the rallies of Presidential candidates.

This bill is an enormous slap in the face to all Americans who tend to enjoy their First Amendment. It not only prevents peaceful protest near the President, his family, the Vice President, the Presidential candidates, Vice Presidential candidates, and virtually any other U.S. official, but it also has quite serious ramifications. Protestors who do not obey this new law will face up to ten years in prison. For comparison’s sake, the average sentence for criminals convicted of rape is 117 months, which is actually a little under ten years. The fact that this bill was proposed is insane, let alone the fact that the bill flew through the House of Representatives with a 388 to 3 vote in favor of it. Funny enough, just hours after the bill passed, Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection, taking advantage of the Amendment-suspending law. United States Representative Justin Amash was one of the only 3 representatives to speak against the bill, saying ““Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights.”

It is a shame that such country-altering laws are passing under the radar of most mainstream news networks. American citizens should have knowledge of such a law and how much it truly damages our First Amendment.