The Big Story Blog

How much does First Amendment protect Occupy protesters?

Posted at 2:05 PM on October 17, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Politics

The non-profit reporting group ProPublica has a good piece today on First Amendment rights and the limits on those rights for protesters in the "Occupy" movement.

ProPublica writes:

The First Amendment is not absolute. Government can make reasonable stipulations about the time, place and manner a peaceable protest can take place, as long as those restrictions are applied in a content-neutral way.

But what constitutes a reasonable time, place and manner restriction? "It depends on the context and circumstances," said Geoffrey Stone, a professor specializing in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. "Things like noise, blockage of ordinary uses of the place, blockage of traffic and destruction of property allow the government to regulate speakers."

These could be important points in Minnesota. We're still waiting any news this afternoon from a meeting of Hennepin County commissioners and Occupy Minnesota protesters over the protesters request to build temporary shelters by the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.

If the commissioners say no, how much can the demonstrators rely on the First Amendment?


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(MPR Photo/Rupa Shenoy)


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.