Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



I imagine Leslie Weise and Alex Young had similar feelings when, in 2005, they attended a government-funded speech by President George W. Bush in Denver. But those feelings appear to have been mixed with ones of discontent and dissent toward the President-for the pair arrived in a car with a bumper sticker reading "No More Blood for Oil," an obvious jab at Bush's Iraq War policies. On instructions from the White House Advance Office, a volunteer named Michael Casper approached Weise and Young at their seats and ejected them from the event. The Secret Service later told Weise and Young that they were forced to leave because of the bumper sticker.

Those who are not legally trained (and many of those who are) surely will feel viscerally ill at ease with this situation. There is no glossing or spinning the facts: because Weise and Young expressed a view contrary to the President's, they were ejected from his speech and atomized from the spectators whose attendance the White House Advance Office deemed permissible. A crucial thread in our national fabric is the right to dissent, within the bounds of reason, without retaliation for the viewpoint expressed. It would seem obvious that the government overstepped its authority by preventing Weise and Young from hearing the President speak.