On What Grounds Is This Legal?

It seems Secret Service agents were busily protecting the President from those dangerous Michael Moore media interviews at the Republican National Convention. Or perhaps they were just protecting Mr. Moore himself from an armed and dangerous NPR reporter, hoorah!

If the Treasury Department lawyers1 are even half as clever as the Justice Department’s, they’ll have already written a comprehensive memo outlining exactly how this kind of behavior can be squared with the First Amendment. In this instance, I imagine it’s by chanting the words “Congress shall make no law” while rocking back and forth with your hands clapped over your ears and your eyes tightly shut to avoid the past 200 years of American jurisprudence, but I’m open to less sophisticated legal arguments. However, the entire contents of those memos will need to be redacted – for security purposes, natch – so we’ll never know for sure.

1Yes, the Secret Service is a subsidiary of the U.S. Treasury. No, that doesn’t help anyone who’s trying to interpret the Wizard of Oz as a fable about the gold standard.

(nodnod to Island of Balta)


  1. Harrison wrote:

    I don’t know… I suppose they could argue that the RNC is in fact a private event, and therefore the 1st amendment doesn’t apply (the protestors can’t protest inside the convention). But surely not allowing two people to speak to each other — and enforcing this with the secret service — should run afoul of some other law.
    Perhaps they would argue that letting Moore speak to a reported would cause a riot among the delegates, that when they heard what he had to say they would start setting fire to their hair and run around screaming about the great hirsute Satan.

  2. yami wrote:

    Yes, it’s the use of the Secret Service that would trigger a First Amendment problem, the RNC can establish whatever bizarroland policies it wants for its convention. Maybe there *are* some arrangements that somehow grant the Secret Service the same constitutional status as a private security force – I suppose that’s really a technical question I’m too lazy to answer – but legal or not it’s certainly poor form.

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