Rainbow/Legaliaison Update 2/25/93

FEBRUARY 25, 1993

Forest Service Proposed Curb on Freedom of
Public Assembly on Public Lands.

Telephone (202) 265-5389
PO Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038


A campfire classic, by Woody Guthrie. "Freedom, freedom." Richie Havens, Woodstock in 1969. Beijing, Chinese students, 1989, "They've denied us the right to assemble." Without the freedom to assemble, freedom of thought and expression are merely academic. If the National Forest Service has its' wish Woody's dream could turn into the Chinese students' nightmare.

During the past seven years the National Forest Service has repeatedly attempted to implement a regulation which would eliminate the RIGHT TO FREELY ASSEMBLE ON "PUBLIC LANDS." United States v. Israel, No. Cr-86-027- TUC-RMB. May 10, 1986; United States v. The Rainbow Family, 694 F. Supp. 294, June 1, 1989, J. Justice, USED Tex. CA No. L-88-68.

As the Reagan/Bush decade drew to a close it left behind a regulatory scheme intended to transform the "right" of peaceable assembly on public lands, into a "privilege" subject to the government's whim. Marian Connolly (703-235-1488), who wrote this regulation, summed it up by stating the rule, "is designed to allow the government a control over who uses the lands."

The proposed regulation has been kept secret by USFS. Freedom of Information Act requests for a copy have been denied on the grounds that it is "a predecisional document the disclosure of which would chill the free and frank exchange of views within the Executive branch." It is clear, however, that the proposal would amend "36 CFR 251 and 261." 36 CFR 261.1b states: "Any violations of Part 261 shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both."

This appeal suggests that writing letters AND making phone calls are important. Lobbyists say a letter is worth ten phone calls. The Clinton administration should consider whether government restriction of PEACEABLE ASSEMBLIES ON PUBLIC LANDS truly serves the interests of a free society. It is suggested that the letter writing campaign begin IMMEDIATELY.

White House
Carol Rasco
Domestic Policy Advisor
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Secretary of Agriculture
ATT: Ron Blackley
14th & Independence SW 200-A
Washington, D.C. 20250

This regulation would set a precedent that could affect all forms of First Amendment activity, from Boy Scout Jamborees to class reunions and sporting events to electronic media.

Thomas, D.C. Legaliaison
P.O. Box 27217, Washington, D.C. 20038
or call (202) 265-5389

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