Friday, February 18, 2011

An interesting point about the First Amendment

From the Plaintiffs Brief in Reply and Opposition in the NJARPC and SAF suit comes an interesting argument (p34 of the linked document). Italics in original, though I have concatenated a footnote onto the end of the paragraph

Moreover, the “safety” distinction offered by State Defendants and Brady Amici relies on a false assumption – that the conduct protected by the First Amendment does not raise significant risks and concerns for society. But this is not the case. While there is no doubt that guns can be dangerous, words can be powerful, and words have the ability to motivate large groups of people – for better or worse. While the rights of speech, petition, and assembly intrinsically raise public safety risks – sometimes acutely – modern First Amendment jurisprudence forbids the preclusion of these activities notwithstanding these risks. (It was speech, petition, and assembly – not guns – that recently overturned the Mubarak regime in Egypt. On the contrary, all of the guns in the army could not contain the power of speech, petition, and assembly. To the extent Amici would like to hang legal arguments on clichés, they would be well advised to remember that “the pen is mightier than the sword.”)

The brief then goes on to argue that the Supreme Court directly analogixed Heller to Skokie (the Illinois Nazi decsion) and stated that the Second Amendment’s protect “is no different”.

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