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New inauguration rules announced

  |   Aug. 9, 2008 at 3:03 PM
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The National Park Service introduced rules to allow the public on 70 percent of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington during U.S. presidential inaugurations.

Critics say that the entire avenue should be open to protesters, The Washington Post reports. In March, a federal judge ruled that the Park Service violated free-speech rights by keeping anti-war activists away from the parade route during President Bush's second inaugural in 2005.

The proposed change would give organizers of the inauguration control of 13 percent of Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Park, allowing them to pack it with supporters of the incoming president. At least 70 percent would be open to all, although permits would still be required for demonstrations.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer representing an anti-war group, the ANSWER Coalition, said the government is still "trying to manipulate the process" and said she planned a new court fight.

"The inaugural committee already has 100 percent of the area around the Capitol and 100 percent of Lafayette Park," she said. "Pennsylvania Avenue is for the public."

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