19 January 2007

Is this what George Washington had in mind when he invented the First Amendment?

From Walter Olson at the Overlawyered blog, I learned that "a Colorado lawyer is arguing (on behalf of a client facing misdemeanor charges) that there's a First Amendment right to deliver dog droppings to someone's office as a means of political self-expression, at least if the lucky recipient is a member of Congress." As the Associated Press reports:
A retired French professor sent dog feces to her congresswoman's office after becoming angry with receiving too many mailings -- and her lawyer says she had a constitutional right to do it.

. . . .

Patricia Bangert, one of [Kathleen] Ensz's attorneys, admitted the act was "probably crude and boorish" but all the same likened it to a form of political protest such as Thomas Jefferson's criticism of the King of England. At a hearing Tuesday, she also cited Mr. Hankey, an animated, talking piece of human excrement depicted on "South Park," as evidence that it is commonplace to use feces to express disdain.

"Etiquette and propriety aside, it is commonplace in today's society to equate a distasteful or disliked person, situation or thing, to feces," Bangert said.

Perhaps there is a valid First Amendment argument for this, but I suspect that it may be prohibited nonetheless on public health grounds. Regardless, as a form of political protest, it may prove to be a one-hit wonder.

After all, even if you have a Constitutional right to send poo to your congressman, UPS and FedEx don't have to take your shit.

Programming Note: Today's juvenile legal analysis has been brought to you by Blogger, the letters "P" and "O", and the ordinal number "First".

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