WASHINGTON, D.C., March 5, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life protester who held a placard and shouted anti-abortion slogans during Barack Obama's inauguration is no longer banished from the nation's capital.
Rives Miller Grogan, a 47-year-old minister, scaled a tree near the reflecting pool and made a vocal case for the unborn during the pomp and circumstance on January 21, pausing only during Beyonce's rendition of the national anthem.
Because of the tree's position, police could not coax him down from his perch for five hours.
At Grogan's hearing days later, Magistrate Judge Karen Howze ordered him not to set foot inside the seat of democracy. The sentence was of the judge's own invention. The prosecutors themselves did not seek so harsh a punishment and Capitol police did not consider him a safety threat.
The decision sparked a debate among civil libertarians about a protester's right to freedom of speech.
Late last month, Judge John McCabe restricted the restricted zone somewhat but still denied Grogan the right to stand on a wide swath of Capitol Hill that includes the Capitol grounds, the Supreme Court, Congressional office buildings, and the Library of Congress.
“The Capitol grounds banishment is unconstitutional,” responded constitutional attorney and Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead. “He has a right to go up there and protest.”
Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!
The California-based activist and former pastor has been arrested numerous times over the last four years – including once running onto the field at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game with a sign that says "Abortion is a sin."
Whitehead said Grogan used civil disobedience tactics for the pro-life cause similar to those “which Martin Luther King Jr. did to great effect.”
“It’s the citizen’s right to confront the government and demand that it alter its policies, but first, citizens have to be seen and heard, and only under extraordinary circumstances should free speech ever be restricted,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Unfortunately, politicians have gone to great lengths to evade their constitutional duty to truly make themselves available to their constituents.”
Grogan will return to D.C., to the courtroom, for a hearing later this month.