Issue of public right to see what’s going on
By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
Federal appellate judges grilled an attorney for the Border Patrol who argued Tuesday it has the right to keep observers and protesters at least 150 feet from a controversial checkpoint in southern Arizona.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Nemeroff told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the entire 300-foot wide stretch from end to end, including the road and the unpaved right of way, is needed for the federal agency to do its job of screening passing vehicles for those not in the country legally.
While the checkpoint was first established in 2007, Nemeroff acknowledged that police tape and, later, ropes, were not erected until 2013 when individuals showed up to monitor what was taking place and protest the activity. But he told the three-judge panel that nothing really changed and, as far as the Border Patrol is concerned, the entire area has been off limits to outsiders since 2007, meaning it is not an area where people can exercise their First Amendment rights of observation and protest.