(House of Representatives - October 12, 2013)

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[Page H6547]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  (Mr. POE of Texas asked and was given permission to address the House 
for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
  Mr. POE of Texas. 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.