Judge Protects Secret Service Records

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge won’t force the Secret Service to give up files on its Inauguration Parade security tactics, ruling against a civil rights group locked in an eight-year fight with the government on where and how they can protest the event.
     Answer, a grassroots organization whose name is short for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, has long fought against federal policies restricting demonstrations during the Presidential Inauguration Parade.
     U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman granted Answer’s motion for discovery in 2007, but the Secret Service withheld and redacted its records relating to the prohibition of sign supports.
     In his most recent ruling in the 2005 case, Friedman ruled that Magistrate Judge Alan Kay rightfully ruled that the Secret Service was justified in withholding the information.
     National Park Service regulations set aside the White House sidewalk and three-quarters of Lafayette Park for exclusive use of the Presidential Inaugural Committee for inaugural activities.
     The regulations allowed demonstrators and others to obtain permits for other areas, but it would not accept permit applications outside one year of the event.
     Answer had previously brought a successful challenge to the agency’s unequal permit requirements, and to its policy of granting the Presidential Inauguration Committee exclusive use of the space along the parade route.
     “The inaugural parade is not an invitation only event,” Answer said in its 2005 complaint against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “It is perhaps the most public of all public ceremonial events in a democracy, the inauguration of a president.”
     Judge Friedman gave Answer standing to sue earlier this year, but won’t force the Secret Service to cough up details on sign supports.
     The agency claimed attorney client privilege, attorney work product and law enforcement as reasons to withhold the records, and the magistrate judge backed it up. Judge Friedman agreed with the Judge Kay’s decisions, despite disagreeing with how Kay arrived at his decision regarding the law enforcement documents.
     “The Court finds no error in either Judge Kay’s analysis or his conclusions relating to the attorney-client privilege, attorney work product, or relevance,” Judge Friedman states. “It therefore declines to order, or undertake itself, an additional review of the remaining documents withheld on these grounds.”
     The judge denied Answer’s request for a court order forcing the release of the documents.

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