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Steven Wilker Prepares to Argue at U.S. Supreme Court on First Amendment Issue

February 6, 2014
Litigator Steven Wilker is preparing to argue at the U.S. Supreme Court in late March in the matter of Wood v. Moss. The case poses the question of whether Secret Service agents can be sued for moving peaceful protesters out of sight and sound of the President because of the viewpoint of their speech.

Wilker is working on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon, which is representing a group of individuals who were sidewalk protesters during a 2004 campaign visit to Jacksonville, Oregon by President George Bush. Secret Service agents directed local law enforcement to move the peaceful anti-Bush demonstrators out of sight and sound of the President while permitting the President’s supporters to remain undisturbed. The plaintiffs allege that the Secret Service violated their First Amendment rights.

The case was originally filed in federal court in 2006. The case has been to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals twice regarding the sufficiency of the complaint. Wilker, with help from Paul Conable on the briefs, successfully argued that plaintiffs had stated sufficient claims for relief and that the Secret Service agents were not, as a matter of law, entitled to qualified immunity. After the 9th Circuit denied rehearing and rehearing en banc last year, the agents sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court granted certiorari in November.