US Forest Service Rulemakings and the Constitutional Costs

Without FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY... ...the Constitution is just Pulp!

The U.S. Forest Service is playing with fire!

Two new administrative rules have been proposed to amend the Code of Federal Regulations --

36 CFR Parts 251/261 36
CFR Parts 261/262 {Fed.Reg. 58:86; 5/6/93} {Fed. Reg. 59:32; 2/16/94}

These amendments would empower the Government to curtail Constitutional freedoms in the National Forests:

The proposed rules must be stopped -- Here's Why

Group Use Rules

A Special Use permit would be required for group events or distribution of printed material. No environmental need has been shown for such restrictions on public lands, which Courts have found to infringe on Constitutional freedoms... and this proposal fails to address those rulings.

With vague permit criteria, USFS officials would hold broad authorities to deny citizen access, and unprecedented powers of "prior restraint" over protected rights. The rules violate the agency's own impact standards under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act), and even sanction U.S. military priority in the National Forests.

The Government fails to justify any "compelling interest" in this rulemaking, and disregards known alternatives to regulation, which by law must be considered as "least restrictive means" to its ends. Determining that this is not a "major rule", they evade formal review of policy impacts.

Our 1st Amendment rights are at risk: This rule would lay a substantial burden on the inalienable freedoms of assembly, expression, and belief -- the legacy of natural rights to join in communion on the land -- by defining the free exercise of those rights as a criminal violation.

Law Enforcement Rules

The USFS would expand Federal jurisdiction and police powers on Public land, overriding local authorities. The rules subject "Public Behavior" to government scrutiny, with broad prohibitions and discretions; agents could impose Special Closures without documenting reasons.

Offenses are redefined to undermine jury trial rights; possession need not be proved on drug charges, & bribery for prosecution is sanctioned. Withfunding control, 'FEMA' (Federal Emergency Management Act) powers to impose marshal law, and plans to combine Federal land agencies -- harsh authorities would apply widely.

A need for new authorities is asserted, yet no "significant interest" is shown -- beyond claims that the existing regulations are "inadequate... for conducting law enforcement activities", & that prosecution should "...bepractical". They say it Is not a "significant rule" to avoid OMB scrutiny.

The 4th Amendment impacts are serious: A new national police force would be broadly empowered to control and lock down public lands by administrative whim; key 'due process' and 'probable cause' protections would be undermined in the name of "proactive enforcement"

These rulemakings must be understood together, as key pieces in a regulatory scheme that would deny the Bill of Rights on Public Lands.

The First Amendment & The Fourth Amendment

For further information, contact...

PO Box 27217 -- Washington, DC 20038
PO Box 6625 -- Chicago, IL 60680
202-462-0757, 202-265-5389 (Fax)

Hotline: 312-409-0018