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Rights Only for the Right People


Federal law already prohibits protesters from blocking entrances. This would add “interfering.” And this would prevent union workers from demonstrating at the home of a CEO.

It might be a little annoying to a CEO if some workers marched in a circle with signs outside his mansion, but making protests personal is an American tradition as old as the Boston Tea Party, when the “Sons of Liberty” violently demonstrated at the homes of British colonial officials.

The right to protest was so important to the founding fathers that they protected it in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  But right-wing lawmakers in Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Michigan want to take that right from members of labor unions.

Republican Jeremy Durham introduced the bill in Tennessee and explained that he felt he had to restrict the civil liberties of union members to prevent workers from organizing and collectively bargaining for better pay and benefits in his state. Here’s what he said: "Tennessee unions quietly added 31,000 members in 2013, representing the largest percentage increase in union membership in the country. I just feel like if that's such a growing part of our economy that we need to take some preemptive measures."

In Michigan, the proposal to take away union members’ right to picket was introduced by Republican Tom McMillin, who has, however, used his First Amendment right to protest at  abortion clinics.

Even the website of Right to Life Michigan stresses the freedom of citizens to protest, stating:  “The U.S. and Michigan constitutions protect the fundamental free speech right of citizens to peaceably speak, assemble, picket, and distribute leaflets in public places.”

But McMillin and his right-wing buddies in Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi think that workers who join unions should lose those rights.

No rights for union members, gays, African Americans, the disabled or young or old or poor, says the right-wing.  No one’s rights are safe in their hands.

Watch Jon Stewart on Arizona's "pre-emptive strike":