Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Casualties In The Battle Of Lancaster

The First Amendment drew a short straw when District Judge Gary L. Lancaster was designated to consider special motions in Pittsburgh's federal courthouse last week. This meant the original G20 protest petitions (triggered by the city's unconstitional handling of permit applications) were directed to Judge Lancaster, who decided, among other issues, that the city's decision to give Al Gore a permit while denying Code Pink a similar permit was not content-based.

Judge Lancaster failed the Constitution again today by ruling -- perhaps because of unfamiliarity with the concepts of pretextual stops and searches, let alone the relevant precedents -- that the obvious police harassment repeated police attention directed toward Seeds For Peace's vehicle, representatives and hosts was more tolerable coincidence than unlawful repression. As the original Post-Gazette article indicated, and another source has confirmed, Judge Lancaster contradicted himself -- at one point claiming the petitioners had failed to prove Constitutional offenses, at another asserting that he would not decide the Constitutional issues because plaintiffs had failed to establish entitlement to extraordinary relief -- while explaining his ruling from the bench today.

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