Supreme Court to weigh Secret Service liability

Nov. 26, 2013 at 1:02 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it would weigh whether Secret Service agents were liable for distancing protesters from President George W. Bush.

In October 2004, toward the end of the presidential campaign, Bush was expected to stay at a cottage a short distance from the Jacksonville Inn in Jacksonville, Ore.

Pro-Bush and anti-Bush demonstrators were nearby.

The president decided to make an unscheduled stop for dinner on the inn's patio. Secret Service agents moved the anti-Bush protesters farther away than the pro-Bush group, court records say. The same thing happened when the Bush motorcade moved away.

A federal appeals court eventually ruled agents were not protected from allegations of free speech discrimination by qualified immunity -- immunity because they were just doing their jobs, even if their actions were later found to be illegal.

The justices should hear the case next spring.

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