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Court won't hear appeal of pair barred from a Bush speech

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2010; A2

Over the objections of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a case brought by two people who said they were barred from a speech given by President George W. Bush because they arrived in a car with a bumper sticker that read "No More Blood for Oil."

The court majority gave no reason for not accepting the appeal brought by Leslie Weise and Alex Young, who say a White House aide and two volunteers violated their rights by preventing them from attending Bush's 2005 speech at a Denver space museum.

Secret Service officials told them that the bumper sticker was the reason they were excluded from the speech, which was at a public event rather than a political rally.

A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said the pair could not, on free speech grounds, sue the volunteers who excluded them because the plaintiffs had not planned to make remarks at the event or try to disrupt it.

The appeals court said there was no precedent for "how to treat the ejection of a silent attendee from an official speech based on the attendee's protected expression outside the speech area."

But Ginsburg said the lower court got it wrong. "I cannot see how reasonable public officials, or any staff or volunteers under their direction, could have viewed the bumper sticker as a permissible reason for depriving Weise and Young of access to the event," she wrote in a dissent joined by Sotomayor.

Ginsburg said established law makes clear that the government "may not deny a benefit to a person on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected interests" and that the prohibition applies "even to conduct startling in its novelty."

The only possible reason for not taking the case, Ginsburg said, is that those being sued were volunteers acting at the behest of the White House officials. There are pending suits against those officials, and those "may offer this court an opportunity to take up the issue avoided today," Ginsburg wrote.

The case is Weise v. Casper.

The court also accepted several new cases for its docket, including whether a federal law governing chemical weapons should have been used to prosecute a woman who tried to poison her husband's mistress.

The appeal is from Carol Anne Bond of Lansdale, Pa., who was trying to harm her former friend Myrlinda Haynes, who Bond learned was pregnant with her husband's child. She used toxic chemicals stolen from her workplace.

She tampered with Haynes's mail to expose her to the chemicals, an act that brought in postal inspectors and resulted in the federal charges. Haynes was unharmed, and Bond was sentenced to six years in prison.

But her lawyers say the federal law under which she was convicted was intended for terrorists and enemy states, not love triangles. They say the conviction should be thrown out and Bond should be charged under state statutes.

The case is Bond v. United States.

The court will also review whether those investigating allegations of sexual abuse of a child must get a warrant to interview the child at school when the alleged abuser is in the child's home.

The case concerns actions by Oregon police and school officials who believed children were being abused by their father. They say it was necessary to conduct the interviews outside the home, but a federal court said they needed a warrant or parental permission.

The case is Camreta v. Greene.

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