The First Amendment right to freedom of speech doesn’t necessarily apply to bumper stickers, ruled a split panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week in Denver – at least when the bumper sticker in question is on private property and the U.S. president is involved.
Leslie Weise and Alex Young arrived at a 2005 town hall meeting held by then-President George W. Bush at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in Denver. The car they drove to the event sported a bumper sticker with the slogan “No More Blood For Oil.” The Secret Service bounced them from the premises based on the sticker. The two, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against the government for violating their First Amendment rights.
In the majority opinion in Weise v. Casper, Judges Paul Kelly and Deanell Reece Tacha held that the plaintiffs “simply have not identified any First Amendment doctrine that prohibits the government from excluding them from an official speech on private property on the basis of their viewpoint.”
Judge William Holloway, in his dissent, said “it is simply astounding that any member of the executive branch could have believed that our Constitution justified this egregious violation of plaintiffs’ rights.”
The ACLU is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.