Free Speech relief unlikely from US Court

DENVER- Federal District Judge Marcia Krieger heard closing arguments today in the case challenging Denver’s DNC free speech restrictions, and what she didn’t hear, she augmented with her own leading questions. “Would you request that the court reserve its ruling until Invesco security arrangements are announced?” (Is she laying ground for a delayed decision?) Other questions painted the plaintiffs’ Free Speech concerns as requests that protest photo-ops feature the Pepsi Center as a backdrop. Judge Krieger asked: “Does the public have the [Constitutional] RIGHT to frame the picture that they like?”

Judge Krieger adjourned at 4PM to work on her written decision. Her earlier plan to visit the disputed isolation zones in question was called off due to a technicality.

There was also a surprise suggestion of a little playground north of the Pepsi Center where the city attorney asserts the public can catch an unimpeded view of the convention center. The plaintiff countered that the park wasn’t among those offered for permits. The judge answered cheerfully that we wouldn’t need a permit for it, to which the plaintiff clarified groups can’t legally hold demonstrations there, beside the fact that it’s a playground, dotted with playground furnishings… Meanwhile the novel location buttressed the city’s claim that protesters would have visual access to the DNC “from all points of the compass.” A fellow activist murmured “like Long’s Peak.”

The plaintiff’s final arguments today were peppered with questions from the judge, to suggest that demonstrators are looking to make a constitutional issue of a photo backdrop. Tent State’s stated desire to be seen marching away from the convention center was ridiculed as if the idea defied geometry. To walk away from the DNC, you’d have to walk toward it, and vice versa, etc.

The defense attorneys seemed to have displeased the judge more, because she had to restate their case for them in stronger terms perhaps so that she’ll have more room to find in their favor. It looked that way to me.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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