Missing the Message


Jake Brown thinks the bike racks around Philadelphia's Independence Hall detract from the historic site. So one day while eating lunch on a bench outside the hall, he propped a sign saying "Free Independence Hall" next to him. A few minutes later, a park ranger told him to get rid of the sign. When Brown asked about his First Amendment rights, the ranger said, "This is a First Amendment-free zone," and threatened to arrest Brown if he didn't turn the sign around. Brown later complained to the American Civil Liberties Union, which complained to the U.S. Park Service. The government now says the First Amendment actually does apply to Independence Hall.