Norton Vows Congressional Action to Stop Trump Administration from Unconstitutional Attempt to Limit Free Speech in Front of White House and on National Mall
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said she will fiercely oppose the new proposals by the National Park Service (NPS) to severely reduce the First Amendment area along the sidewalk in front of the White House, restrict spontaneous demonstrations and impose fees for free speech permits. Norton said the proposals, particularly those targeting the First Amendment rights of Americans, would not pass constitutional muster, and similar proposals have been struck down by the courts, even during times of war. Norton will submit her statement as an official public comment to the proposals (Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AE45).
“This is the nation’s capital, the seat of our national democratic government and, consequently, where First Amendment rights are most often exercised on virtually every issue by Americans of all colors, creeds and beliefs,” Norton said. “The security concerns cited by NPS do not hold water considering the newly enhanced White House fence, which I specifically worked on here in Congress, both to protect the White House and to ensure that public access to the White House sidewalk would in fact be maintained. In addition, charging fees to protest would put a price on free speech and silence those who do not have the means to pay. The feedback NPS receives from its public comment period should dissuade it from pursuing these policies. But, if the Trump Administration chooses to move forward, they will have to deal with me, my colleagues in Congress and, I believe, the courts, to justify these proposals.”