Otter Extolls Freedom in Constitution/ Plans Police Action on Occupy Boise

Our governor was a speechifying this week, going all high and mighty on the constitution and it's guarantee of freedom.

...and then use that in the spirit of living that freedom under our constitution because its ONLY if we obey that constitution, if we know the constitution, if we're so familiar with it, as we can challenge any political theater, that would violate that constitution, and their contract to hold that office, then and there is our duty, and our responsibility, and it is exactly what our founders expected of us...

Granted these words are the flowery, fact free, tea bagger version of the constitution and designed to give Otter the very political cover, he cravenly rails against, for his ill fated decision to challenge Obamacare. But Otter must have forgotten a mirror, because his hypocrisy was not as tightly coiffed as his hair on a windy day. This week, plans were disclosed regarding Idaho State Police's "Operation De-Occupy Boise" which was a coordinated law enforcement enterprise to take the very constitutional rights Otter claims to protect.

When the legislature passed "emergency legislation" to shut down the Occupy Boise encampment, which Otter promptly signed and upon which he issued orders to law enforcement, the Occupy Boise movement filed for a restraining order in federal court. Judge Winmill held for the constitution and against Otter stating:

Occupy Boise’s tent city is a political protest of income inequality. As such, it is expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. The State has the authority to regulate expressive conduct and can require reasonable time and place restrictions that are content neutral. But once a State law, or the State’s enforcement of that law, targets certain speech for restriction because of its content – especially when the target is political speech in a public forum – the law is presumptively unconstitutional. When the restriction is content based, the State bears an “extraordinarily heavy burden” of showing that the law or its enforcement is the least restrictive means to further a compelling State interest.

Here, there is evidence that the State’s enforcement of the recently passed Idaho law banning camping on state grounds targeted Occupy Boise’s expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. The State’s attorney in oral argument before this Court interpreted the law to permit a symbolic tent city that did not feature overnight sleeping. This interpretation clearly comports with the language of the statute, which only prohibits “sleeping” and “camping” on state grounds and does not purport to ban the maintenance of a symbolic tent city which could be staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Yet Governor Otter’s letter announcing his signing of the legislation appears to require the removal of all tents, and that appears to be how the State Police are interpreting the law. Such action is simply not authorized by the statute. Because the reach of the State’s enforcement may exceed the grasp of the statute, this creates the appearance that the State is stretching to suppress the core political message of Occupy Boise – its tents – as presented in a public forum.

These circumstances render the State’s enforcement policy of removing Occupy Boise’s tents presumptively invalid under the First Amendment.

Indeed Judge Winmill focused on Otter's order to the state police more than once.“Governor Otter's edict, and the stated intention of the State Police, is to remove Occupy Boise entirely - tents and all. … This creates the appearance that the State is stretching to shut down a political message - a tent city - presented in a public forum.” Now we know that had legal action not occurred, the long arm of Otter's law would have smitten those tents where they stood. The freedoms guaranteed by the constitution would have been the victim at Otter's hands.