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Thu Mar 8, 2012, 02:49 PM

How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill?

How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill?

Posted by Gabe Rottman

Recent days have seen significant concern about an unassuming bill with an unassuming name: the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011." The bill, H.R. 347, has been variously described as making the First Amendment illegal or criminalizing the Occupy protests.

The truth is more mundane, but the issues raised are still of major significance for the First Amendment.

It's important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn't create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.

These restricted areas include locations where individuals under Secret Service protection are temporarily located, and certain large special events like a presidential inauguration. They can also include large public events like the Super Bowl and the presidential nominating conventions (troublingly, the Department of Homeland Security has significant discretion in designating what qualifies as one of these special events).

The original statute, unchanged by H.R. 347,made certain conduct with respect to these restricted areas a crime, including simple trespass, actions in or near the restricted area that would "disrupt the orderly conduct of Government," and blocking the entrance or exit to the restricted area.

H.R. 347 did make one noteworthy change, which may make it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.

Without getting too much into the weeds, most crimes require the government to prove a certain state of mind. Under the original language of the law, you had to act "willfully and knowingly" when committing the crime. In short, you had to know your conduct was illegal. Under H.R. 347, you will simply need to act "knowingly," which here would mean that you know you're in a restricted area, but not necessarily that you're committing a crime.
- more -

http://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/how-big-deal-hr-347-criminalizing-protest-bill

This clarifies a lot.

On the distinction made between "willfully and knowingly" and "knowingly":

If you "know you're in a restricted area," know you're "without lawful authority to do so," and you're there "with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions," how on earth would you not know you're committing a crime? The criteria are inseparable.

`(a) Whoever--
`(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
`(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;

The bill passed the House in 2010 and was re-introduced in January 2011. Here are all votes on the bill:

House Vote On Passage: H.R. 347: Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2011-149

House Vote #73 (Feb 27, 2012)
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2012-73

S. 1794: Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011
Feb 6, 2012: This bill passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent. A record of each senator’s position was not kept.
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-1794

Text:

H.R.347 -- Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] - ENR)

--H.R.347--

H.R.347

One Hundred Twelfth Congress

of the

United States of America

AT THE SECOND SESSION

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,

the third day of January, two thousand and twelve

An Act

To correct and simplify the drafting of section 1752 (relating to restricted buildings or grounds) of title 18, United States Code.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. RESTRICTED BUILDING OR GROUNDS.

Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
-`Sec. 1752. Restricted building or grounds

`(a) Whoever--
`(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
`(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
`(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
`(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;
or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
`(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is--
`(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if--
`(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
`(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
`(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
`(c) In this section--
`(1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds' means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area--
`(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President's official residence or its grounds;
`(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
`(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
`(2) the term `other person protected by the Secret Service' means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.'.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Vice President of the United States and

President of the Senate.


Current law (enacted in 1971): http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1752

18 USC § 1752 - Restricted building or grounds

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons—
(1) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting;
(2) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance;
(3) willfully, knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, to engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any building or grounds described in paragraph (1) or (2) when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
(4) willfully and knowingly to obstruct or impede ingress or egress to or from any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2); or
(5) willfully and knowingly to engage in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2).
(b) Violation of this section, and attempts or conspiracies to commit such violations, shall be punishable by—
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if—
(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118 (e)(3); and
(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
(c) Violation of this section, and attempts or conspiracies to commit such violations, shall be prosecuted by the United States attorney in the Federal district court having jurisdiction of the place where the offense occurred.
(d) None of the laws of the United States or of the several States and the District of Columbia shall be superseded by this section.
(e) As used in this section, the term “other person protected by the Secret Service” means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title when such person has not declined such protection.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1752


BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR THE LEGISLATION
The United States Secret Service provides protective services to the President, the First Family, the Vice President, former Presidents, visiting heads of state, and others. This protection covers not only the White House and its grounds but also any where a protectee may be temporarily visiting. The Secret Service also provides protection at events designated as `a special event of national significance.'

Current law prohibits unlawful entries upon any restricted building or ground where the President, Vice President or other protectee is temporarily visiting. However, there is no Federal law that expressly prohibits unlawful entry to the White House and its grounds or the Vice President's residence and its grounds.

The Secret Service must therefore rely upon a provision in the District of Columbia Code, which addresses only minor misdemeanor infractions, when someone attempts to or successfully trespasses upon the grounds of the White House or Vice President's residence or, worse, breaches the White House or Vice President's residence itself.

H.R. 347 remedies this problem by specifically including the White House, the Vice President's residence, and their respective grounds in the definition of restricted buildings and grounds for purposes of Section 1752.

The bill also clarifies that the penalties in Section 1752 of title 18 apply to those who knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so. Current law does not include this important element. The bill makes other technical improvements to the existing law. In the 111th Congress, the House approved similar legislation (H.R. 2780) by voice vote on July 27, 2010.


You can read more about the legislatin here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:H.R.347:

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Reply How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill? (Original post)
ProSense Mar 2012 OP
ProSense Mar 2012 #1

Response to ProSense (Original post)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 03:30 PM

1. Kick! n/t

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