Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the political spectrum are planning to march in Washington, D.C., next month during the weekend of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Well over 100,000 women are expected to take part in the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, but there are pro-Trump groups who are also finding their First Amendment rights violated. And who is the culprit? NPS – the National Park Service.
NPS Has Blocked Off Most Of National Mall
Presidential inaugurations always draw protesters and demonstrators, and, historically, the NPS has blocked off certain areas for the inaugural committees at first, but then opened up certain areas after the fact. AP, however, reports that:
“Twenty groups have applied for permits, and those applications are all classified as pending, according to park service records. That’s about four times the number of groups that asked to protest during previous inaugurations, park service spokesman Mike Litterst said.”
The Presidential Inauguration Committee has right of first refusal to all the areas reserved by the NPS. Which means that Trump’s inaugural committee can decide whether or not they want to open up the areas for anti-Trump demonstrators to gather.
I think we can all figure out how well that will go.
There is, however, some resistance afoot:
“Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund — who has successfully litigated on behalf of protesters in Washington for more than a decade — threatened legal action against the park service if it does not rescind a permit the agency itself took out to block groups from using land around the White House and the National Mall for demonstrations.”
She says that the NPS’s denial to issue permits to demonstrators is “unconstitutional,” and, according to AP:
“Verheyden-Hilliard said activists are concerned that the inaugural committee will run out the clock on dissidents and she will take legal action in a bid to prevent that.”
I know I’ll still travel to the capital next month, regardless of permits.