In district court for violating city curfew by camping in Manchester’s Victory Park, members of the Occupy New Hampshire movement argued last week that they were exercising both their First Amendment rights and their right to revolution under Part I, Article 10 of the New Hampshire Constitution. What we don’t understand is how the judge refrained from laughing for the entire day-long trial.
The First Amendment issue is already settled law. Time and place restrictions are perfectly acceptable. Nazis cannot block bridges in protest, no one can yell “fire” in a crowded theater just for kicks, and the First Amendment does not guarantee access to a specific public park at midnight.
The “revolution” argument is simply hilarious. The state constitution states that “whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government.”
The 17 Occupiers claim that their tiny protest vigil was intended as an act of revolution against the State of New Hampshire. But the constitution guarantees that right only under the circumstances outlined above, none of which has been met. A minority’s failure to get unpopular legislation passed does not amount to systematic governmental oppression. Sorry, Occupiers. If you want to enact your agenda, next time try running for office.