Profs & Pints: Force vs. First Amendment
Profs and Pints presents: Force vs. First Amendment, with Mary McCord, visiting professor at Georgetown Laws Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.
In recent years far-right extremist groups have taken to the streets to advocate for white nationalism. Far more than free speech has occurred at their marches and rallies in places like Berkeley, Calif.; Portland, Ore., and Charlottesville, Va. Espousing a provoke and invoke strategy, the groups have used their intimidating words and armed, organized displays of force to provoke counter-protesters into striking the first blow. Theyve then responded violently, invoking self-defense.
Self-professed militia groups frequently have provided security at these events. Armed with AR-15s, they have taken it upon themselves to determine whether, and when. lethal force may be used.
Is this violent activity protected by the First Amendment? Does the Second Amendment protect the open carrying of firearms as part of an unauthorized militia? Is private paramilitary activity allowed under federal or state law?
Professor McCord led a successful lawsuit that pushed Charlottesville, Va., to take a novel approach to dealing with more than 20 individuals and groups that had participated in the Unite the Right rally in August 2017. It barred those returning to the city in groups of two or more from acting in concert while armed with any type of weapon, including shields. The court orders resulting from the lawsuit covered any protest, rally, demonstration, or march.
Shell talk about how nearly every state has constitutional provisions and laws that bar paramilitary activity, and shell describe how enforcement of those laws is consistent with the First and Second Amendments. (Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, save $2 with a student ID.)
The Bier Baron Tavern (View)
1523 22nd St NW
Washington, DC 20037
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