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Cordoned off area may be stepping on First Amendment rights

Reported by: Antonio Castelan
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Updated: 4/10/2014 10:15 am

OVERTON, Nev. -- Freedom of speech is always a hot topic, especially when that right is tested.

The Bureau of Land Management recently set up "First Amendment areas" near Bunkerville at the site of the cattle roundup.

Some say that by doing this, the BLM is stepping on First Amendment rights.

Anyone wanting to protest the government's roundup of cattle near Bunkerville will find themselves inside an orange-fenced gate "named" a First Amendment area.

On the streets of Las Vegas, there is no such restriction. People are allowed to voice what they want, wherever they want.

"It's just a part of the cost of doing business," said John Parochelli.

Parochelli knows all about voicing his First Amendment rights. He protested on federal lands in the past where the bureau of land management set up a "first amendment area. Parochelli said, "Particularly any effort by the BLM over 20 years to free speech I'm against."

The American Civil Liberties Union is also against these First Amendment areas.

"This is just over reach for the government and violates the constitution," said Allen Lichtenstein, the General Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, who says the government has been taken to the court over these free speech zones and lost.

"In this circumstance we don't want people to see and therefore they can say whatever they want to coyote whatever out there," Lichtenstein said.

Ian Bartrum with the UNLV Law School says in some circumstances the government has a right to set up such zones.

"The government has always had a right to lay its restrictions when they think that speech could be dangerous," Bartum said.

In this case concerning the BLM and cattle, Bartrum isn’t sure about the threat.

"The areas the BLM has closed are pretty broad. It's not clear how related those closures are really to public concerns."



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