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Does The First Amendment Protect College Rioters?

The scenes of college and university students, along with their rent-a-mob reinforcements

have disgusted many, if not most, Americans.

Yet, conservative free speech advocates have decried the actions of law-and-order public officials, such as Texas Republican Governor Gregg Abbott to shut down the campus “protests” arguing that the First Amendment protects them, no matter how vile and anti-Semitic or anti-American they may be.

 We are inclined to see so-called hate speech laws as violations of the four corners of the First Amendment, even as the Supreme Court has yet to see things our way,

But that doesn’t leave law enforcement impotent in the face of these outrages.

As our friend Hans von Spakovsky pointed out in an article for The Daily Signal, “What to Do About the Terrorist Supporters Among Us” there’s plenty of justification for dispersing and arresting the rioters without impinging upon the First Amendment:


First, it’s important to remember that individuals who are not citizens have limited rights in this country, a principle the courts have upheld on numerous occasions. For example, federal laws ban aliens from contributing money to, or making any expenditure on behalf of, any candidate in any federal, state, or local election, a clear restriction on First Amendment protections that doesn’t apply to citizens.


In 2011, in Bluman v. Federal Election Commission, an opinion affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, then-Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh cited the Supreme Court’s “long held” view that the government can exclude aliens “from activities that are part of democratic self-government.” 


That includes, for example, not only banning them from participation in our political and election process, but excluding them from “voting, serving as jurors, working as police or probation officers, or teaching at public schools.”


Under that logic, arguably any of those racist, antisemitic Hamas agitators at those universities and elsewhere who are aliens—whether they are here illegally or legally—do not have a First Amendment right that prevents them from being deported, particularly given their approval of mass murder by a terrorist organization in Israel.


Those here illegally should be immediately removed from the country.


Those aliens here legally should have their visas revoked and should also be immediately thrown out of the country. That’s well within the power of the federal government. Under 8 U.S.C. §1201, visas can be revoked “at any time” at the “discretion” of State Department officials.


Second, any of those hooligans who destroy or deface property, impede traffic, physically intimidate anyone, threaten police or Jews, or commit other crimes, and who are local, state, or federal employees, should be terminated from their jobs.


If they hold a security clearance, it should be revoked forthwith. Racist supporters of terrorism should not be working in government at any level, and certainly should not have a security clearance, since they are an obvious threat to our national security.


Third, many of those agitators cover their faces so they cannot be identified. The videos speak for themselves. In some instances, they can be seen intentionally and deliberately obstructing and blocking public roads and bridges, such as their recent blockade of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. 


The Federalist reports that those actions are being undertaken to “identify and blockade major choke points in the economy, focusing on points of production and circulation with the aim of causing the most economic impact” in order to “disrupt and blockade economic logistical hubs and the flow of capital.” 


Such behavior potentially violates 42 U.S.C. §1985, which creates a civil cause of action for anyone victimized by persons who “conspire or go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another, for the purpose of depriving … any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws … whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States.”


These are not victimless crimes. The victims of these terrorist supporters who are losing educational and economic opportunities—as well as being threatened, intimidated, or assaulted—have a cause of action against those arrested by law enforcement.


If so-called civil rights organizations like the ACLU weren’t denizens of the far Left these days, they would take up representation of these victims to go after the perpetrators.


Moreover, such lawless behavior is a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. §241, which prohibits conspiring to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States” or to “go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured.”


That is clearly going on here, and the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice should open up investigations under Section 241 of those organizing and participating in these conspiratorial intimidation and blockade tactics. 


Fourth, as my colleague Joel Griffith at The Heritage Foundation has pointed out, “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act protects Jews—just as every other race, color, national origin, and ethnicity—from discrimination at taxpayer-funded universities … When [antisemitic] activity breaches the bounds of free speech, universities must comply with their obligations under the Civil Rights Act. 


“University-sponsored or enabled discrimination—including toleration of [antisemitic] behavior breaching the bounds of free speech—violates this Act.” That’s certainly what’s happening at universities across the country. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)


Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997. Providing “material support” to a terrorist organization is a violation of federal criminal law, 18 U.S.C. §2339A.


Are those organizing and participating in these protests, economic blockades, and intimidation otherwise providing “material support” for Hamas? That should be part of any Section 241 investigation.


Of Mr. von Spakovsky’s five points we are particularly interested in points three, four and five. These are the tools the FBI once used to go after the Ku Klux Klan and other domestic terrorist organizations and the break-up another Hamas-supporting organization – the Holy Land Foundation.

The brazen way in which these anti-Semitic campus riots have been organized and funded would no doubt make them easy enough to unravel back to their funding sources if the FBI bothered to do so. However, like the 2020 George Floyd-inspired “Summer of Love” riots organized by BLM it doesn’t look like the FBI is inclined to investigate them, let alone bring charges. That leaves it up to state and local officials to do so, and we urge Governor Abbott and the governors of other conservative states to put their law enforcement agencies quickly to the task.

  • campus protests

  • Israel Hamas war

  • Iran

  • Palestinians

  • Free Speech

  • Freedom of Assembly

  • hate speech

  • anti-Semitism

  • law enforcement

  • illegal immigrants

  • aliens first amendment

  • Hamas agitators

  • Golden Gate Bridge

  • revoke visas

  • terrorism

  • ACLU

  • FBI

  • U.S. Department of Justice

  • Civil Rights Act

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Even the First Amendment has its limits. The old adage "your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose" applies to it. Your right to assemble cannot infringe my right to speak, to move, to practice my religion, ....

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