There’s been a lot of talk about forcibly removing folks from various parks all over the nation that are playing host to the Occupy movement. I can certainly sympathize with that, as I’m not a particular fan of the Occupy crowd. However, I also can’t help but feel that forcibly removing them is exactly the wrong thing to do.
The First Amendment says (emphasis mine):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Most of the Occupy folks may be obnoxious, but they’re still peaceably assembled. The Constitution doesn’t specify a time limit for such assemblies either. After all, the text doesn’t say, “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble but only until the street lights come on”, now does it? Of course not. There is no text in the Constitution outlining a time table.
Honestly, I don’t know whether these Occupy crowds got permits or not. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. I’m not a fan of permits being required to exercise a constitutional right. I’m not a fan of having to ask the government’s permission to buy a gun, so why on earth would I be OK with asking their permission to peaceably assemble?