Legaliaison\Peace Park
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038
(202) 462-0757

May 15, 1993


On May 6, 1993 the Forest Service published a proposed rule (Federal Register Vol. 58, No. 86), making at least two things clear. First, the proposal would restrict the "First Amendment" (id. p. 26940), effectively transforming free assembly on public land into a privilege/crime. Second, the legal principles referred to by the government as authority for the proposed regulation are found in Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 (1984). Id.

The Forest Service proposal is a serious matter. 36 CFR 261.1(b) provides a penalty of six months in prison and a $500.00 fine.

Since June 3, 1981, the Peace Park tribe has maintained a vigil for wisdom and honesty, seeking truth, justice, freedom, equality and peace on earth across the street from the White House in Peace (Lafayette) Park. In response to our activities the government has passed four regulations to control our expression.

This experience has educated us in government regulation of individual rights, abuse of police power, and the machinations of the judicial system. It has disturbed us to watch the legal principles established by the government against us, used to limit the freedom of others. We see this happening with the Forest Service regulation.

When Thurgood Marshall -- who joined with Justice Brennan in a very intelligent dissent from the Clark opinion -- retired from the Supreme Court, he stated, "This court no longer rules by reason, but by force." Ironically, Justice White, who alone voted for a fair hearing in Thomas v. Reagan, also wrote the majority opinion in Clark. While Justice White's dissent might indicate a personal change of heart, the full court's decision indicates to us that Justice Marshall was correct.

Marshall and Brennan are both gone. Current interpretations of the principles stated in Clark provide the legal authority for a police state. Our experience, and the opinion in Thomas, leads us to believe that it is unreasonable to expect the judicial system to reverse the government's authoritarian trend. If these statements seem extreme, it is suggested that dialogue be focused on these concerns. The LEGALIAISON COUNCIL in D.C. in the SECOND WEEK OF JULY would be a good opportunity for such a dialogue.

If our assessment is accurate, there is no good reason to expect the courts to favor the First Amendment against the Forest Service's proposed regulation. Therefore, it is suggested that rather than concentrate on courtroom strategies to oppose this police state regulation, other, more direct, tactics should be given greater consideration.

In service to the Spirit of understanding,


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