Let Your Voice Be Heard!
Women’s March Portland Oregon, January 21st, 2017
Free Speech Limitations
Have you noticed? Folks of all walks of life are exercising 1st Amendment rights more often and much of the time through protest. Though crucial to a healthy democracy, Americans’ free speech right has limitations. But before protesting, you should be aware of your rights, duties and risks.
BLM Protests Oregon, 2016
Guilty by Association?
The United States Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, protects U.S. citizens from certain government actions. Non-citizens and Non-residents are not afforded the same protections.
Though non-citizens and non-residents can participate in protests and other free speech, their actions may be closely monitored by the government under the USA Patriot Act.
If you are not a citizen or resident of the United States, you will need to be more aware of your surroundings, the actions of others, and any actions that may be perceived as violent.
Non-citizens and non-residents are advised to carry the numbers of friends, family, immigration attorneys or immigration advocacy organizations to any first amendment activity they will be participating in.
Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice Sit-In Oregon, August 30th, 2017
Think Before You Invoke The First
First Amendment freedoms are even limited to U.S. citizens. Be aware of the ways in which the government can still limit your free speech, specifically in public protests.
- You have the right to engage in peaceful protests in public areas, such as streets, sidewalks and parks. However, the government can limit these activities by requiring permits to hold events with more than a certain amount of people. This is constitutional so long as the government is treating each group that applies for permits fairly, and that the lengths the public must go to obtain a permit is reasonable. The government cannot deny you a permit simply because they do not approve of the message you are spreading. Similarly, you may file a complaint if the government does not afford your group the same treatment as another group who has applied for permits for similar events.
- As long as protestors are not disrupting others, they may distribute flyers, hold signs, or collect signatures on petitions on publicly owned land or in front of government buildings. Protestors cannot force the general public to accept flyers or cause delays in traffic.
- Protestors cannot block entrances to buildings, vehicle or pedestrian traffic without obtaining a permit.
- Protestors cannot endanger or physically harass others.
- While engaging in peaceful assembly, protestors are expected not to violate other laws. They are expected also not to entice others to violence or unlawful acts. The government often uses enticement to violence and other unlawful acts as its excuses to break up protests.
- First amendment activities can take place on private property, so long as the owner has given consent. Once consent from the owner has been revoked, protestors do not have a right to be on the premises.
If you believe your 1st Amendment Rights have been violated, we may be able to help. Rizklaw offers a compassionate and knowledgeable team to discuss your case and address your needs. Consultations are free and completely confidential, and our attorneys understand how difficult this subject can be. Please call (503) 245-5677 or use our online contact form to learn how our compassionate legal team can help you and your family.