Trump Putting Surcharge on Free Speech

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, enjoying the great outdoors, which he is looking to protect from Americans exercising their right to protest.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed closing off 80 percent of the sidewalks around the White House to protesters and charging those who use public property within sight of the Executive Mansion — such as Lafayette Park — to pay the National Park Service a fee for “event management costs.”

Fees like this are charged for large groups using the National Mall for special events, but have never been assessed for spontaneous protest — though President Richard M. Nixon tried to impose such fees and was brushed back by the courts.

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law “abridging the right of free speech or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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