A female United States Senator is teaching a class at a public university in Arizona and is followed into the ladies’ restroom and approached by a woman activist (along with her colleague who is filming) wanting to lecture the Senator regarding federal legislation the Senator will be voting on. Is this an issue of “free speech” on public policy protected by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution or is this a case of improper harassment and filming in contravention to Arizona criminal statutes?
In a prior article entitled The Puzzling Oversight Hearings Regarding the Withdrawal From Afghanistan, I posited that, “By design, 1,000 puzzle pieces of our national puzzle are now being thrown out to the public in the form of one disaster after another in order to encourage citizens to throw up their hands and give up on determining causality and accountability.”
The ladies’ restroom incident is one of those 1,000 pieces being thrown out there. It is worth examining closely.
For such a prized political right the 1st Amendment’s “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech” is difficult for many Americans to understand. It is also difficult for many commentators to understand. The Supreme Court has endless rulings on this particular phrase in the Constitution and guards the right to free political speech jealously. What this means is that if speech on public policy is curtailed the reason for its restriction must be compelling. Does this protection extend to public policy speech in the ladies’ restroom of Arizona State University?
In every case regarding Constitutionally protected speech that has come before the Supreme Court minute facts are critical. Each case and controversy is unique. However, there are recognized boundaries that we can apply to the facts.
First, is it speech, express or symbolic? Yes. The woman activist is expressly stating her views. Second, is the express speech about public policy? Yes. The woman activist is speaking about proposed federal legislation. Third, is the express speech on public policy delivered in a public forum where speech of that type can be expected? Yes and no. It was delivered at a public university that would normally be a proper forum for political speech, but in the ladies’ restroom that would not normally be used for that purpose. Finally, did the speech meet reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that would have been placed on the speech by the university? No. No university would think that the place of the speech (ladies’ restroom) and manner (speaking to the Senator through a restroom stall) “reasonable.”
What would the Supreme Court of the United States say? The Supreme Court would grant such a case no dignity whatsoever. So, does this incident involve the law?
Yes; the incident involves Arizona state statutes relating to harassment that are part of Positive Law, along with the Constitution itself, and it involves another body of law we call Unwritten Law that involves courtesy and comity between persons.
The Arizona statute on harassment defines it as conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed or annoyed. The perpetrator must intend to harass and know she is harassing. The victim must actually be annoyed and press charges. Even though the Senator is a public person and must tolerate invasions of privacy and annoyances others do not have to tolerate, she has a right to use the restroom in peace without fear of ambush. This high tolerance that many public figures endure almost always means no charges will be filed. It is also illegal to film someone in a restroom as one entering a restroom has a reasonable expectation of privacy in that place.
This situation, when all is said and done, is really about Unwritten Law. This bundle of Law is not known to many Americans but it is a very important part of our system. We are required to be kind and to be courteous to our fellow man. Accosting this Senator in the restroom, or on a plane, or in the airport is rude, hurtful, and discourteous.
We the People are now being asked to analyze 1,000 disasters similar to this all coming at once. We have Americans stranded overseas and facing death. We have hundreds of thousands of persons pouring into the country without control. We have an Attorney General who is improperly investigating local matters. We have proposed legislation to spy on everyday Americans through banking mandates. We have bureaucrats, both state and federal, embracing tyranny in all its forms. We have a President compromised by a major adversary and a military leadership weakened by “woke.” Our economy is being destroyed and any opposition to any of these disasters is labeled “domestic terrorism.”
On the other hand, We the People have the Rule of Law (Moral, Positive, Common, and Unwritten) to sustain us and innate common sense. We will not stand for the debauching of our families and we will not stand for harassment in ladies’ restrooms. Good – only 999 disasters left to analyze.