Secret Service Agents Sued for “Viewpoint Discrimination”

A federal appellate court has ruled that two Secret Service agents must face charges for violating the free speech rights of protesters by engaging in “viewpoint discrimination” during the administration of President George W. Bush.

On October 14, 2004, Secret Service agents Tim Wood and Rob Savage were part of President Bush’s security detail when he visited the mining town of Jacksonville, Oregon. Groups of both pro- and anti-Bush demonstrators gathered outside the hotel where Bush was staying. According to court papers, relations between the two sides were non-violent and “cordial.” However, Wood and Savage then ordered state and local law enforcement officers to move the Bush critics away from the building and undergo security screening, while allowing the pro-Bush crowd to get closer and not endure the screening. The law enforcement officers used “clubs, pepperspray bullets, and violent shoving” to accomplish their task.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, seven anti-Bush demonstrators sued the Secret Service, claiming Wood and Savage violated their First Amendment rights.

The agents filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the motion and denied qualified immunity to Wood and Savage.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

To Learn More:

Police Shoot Pepper Balls at Oregon Demonstrators (by Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive)