Don’t expect to see this on Maddow – it makes Democrats look bad. Only three House members voted against this.
The root of the problem with this legislation lies in the omission of the word “willfully” to make the condition simply “knowingly” in conjunction with the phrase “or so that, such conduct, in fact”. The use of this conditional phrase effectively nullifies the intent component in the absence of “willfully” being explicitly stated. You may not have willfully or knowingly done anything other than exercise your free speech and free assembly rights, but if you “in fact” “[impede] or [disrupt] the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions”, you can be arrested and charged under this proposed revision of 18 U.S.C. § 1752 whether the impediment or disruption was willful or not. The reworded law as the bill is currently formulated effectively does away with intent as a requirement in addition to expanding the meaning of the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ to mean virtually any place in proximity to or place proper a government function or an “event of national interest” is taking place. This would allow for the arrest of protesters just about anywhere. Outside political rallies, near the hotels of visiting foreign dignitaries, outside sporting or other public events like the Super Bowl . . . you get the idea.