WASHINGTON, October 12 -


Mr. Speaker, the Mall and the memorials on the Mall are public places open 24 hours a day. The Park Service has closed them, using the excuse of the shutdown. But the Park Service discriminates who may exercise the First Amendment and who may not. It allowed a free speech immigration rally on the Mall but denies people access to the World War II Memorial. This is arbitrary action, thus constitutionally unlawful.

The Park Service forgets also that the First Amendment includes the right of the people to peaceably assemble. The Supreme Court sometimes limits the First Amendment by citing a compelling State interest, even though the First Amendment doesn't really give that exception.

The Government's compelling State interest here: lack of money. Does this mean any time the government claims it has no funds, it can shut down the First Amendment and deny the right to peaceably assemble? I think not.

This excuse is ludicrous, unlawful, arbitrary, and in practice, it discriminates. The First Amendment was written to prevent this very type of action by government.

Let the people assemble. Take the barricades of constitutional oppression down.

And that's just the way it is.