For Immediate Release
February 12, 2003
Amicus Brief Filed on Behalf of Peace March
Today at 8:30 a.m., the Brennan Center for Justice filed a brief in the lawsuit seeking a permit for a peace march Saturday, March 15 on behalf of the plaintiffs. The brief argues that fear is not a justification for the erosion of our right to protest. When our namesake, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., was on the Supreme Court, he heard several cases regarding protests in cities like Birmingham, Selma, Georgia and Chicago, where the police or other agents of the state were trying to ban marches and other forms of public demonstration. The most frequent justification for these bans was fear of civil unrest and violence, a justified fear in those turbulent times. However, the Court, often in decisions authored by Justice Brennan himself, “refused to permit even well-meaning authorities to elevate fear to a level where it eclipsed our First Amendment heritage.”
Even in these difficult times, and maybe especially, the nation’s history as a place where protest of government policy is tolerated must be acknowledged and continued. The brief explains that this sacrifice is legally unjustifiable, and antithetical to the American notion of democracy.
Burt Neuborne, noted civil rights attorney, Brennan Center Legal Director and co-author of this brief is available for comment on this issue. Burt can be reached at 212.620.0559, or contact Amanda Cooper at 212.998.6736.