7/7/15 Banning the First Amendment

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It’€™s with great irony –€“ no, wait, it’€™s with great alarm that days before the 4th of July, a judge launched an attack on constitutional rights.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and the right of the people to petition the government for the redress of grievances.

Florida’€™s Duval County chief judge Mark Mahon [appointed to the bench by Governor Charlie Crist in 2007] issued an order banning speech.

Mahon ordered a ban on “Demonstrations or dissemination of materials that degrade or call into question the integrity of the Court or any of its judges.”  His ban includes area sidewalks near the courthouse.  Violators “may be found in criminal contempt of Court.”

More than 30 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled [in United States v. Grace] that courthouse sidewalks are public forums available for citizen protest.  The high court observed that courthouse sidewalks do not carry any special status not found on any other sidewalk. Here’s the best part.  The Supreme Court ruled in favor of citizens carrying signs and handing out leaflets on sidewalks of the Supreme Court.

There are other provisions in Mahon’s unconstitutional ban that has sheriffs threatening to arrest journalists filming on nearby sidewalks.

How did someone who opposes constitutional protections ever become a judge. Worse — a chief judge?

[Contact information for Judge Mark Mahon is here.]

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