Fact or Fiction: Does H.R. 347 restrict free speech by preventing people from protesting?
Fiction: H.R. 347 gives the Secret Service the ability to secure locations where they are responsible for protecting certain public officials.
Prior to H.R 347, the law prohibited unlawful entries upon any restricted building or ground where the President, Vice President or other protectee is temporarily visiting. However, there was no federal law that expressly prohibited unlawful entry to the White House and its grounds or the Vice President’s residence and its grounds.
The Secret Service therefore relied upon a provision in the District of Columbia Code, which addresses only minor misdemeanor infractions, when someone attempted to or successfully climbed the White House fence or breached the White House itself. H.R. 347 remedied that problem by specifically including the White House, the Vice President’s residence and their respective grounds in the definition of restricted buildings and grounds.
The old law also did not distinguish between those who have lawful authority to be on White House grounds, like Secret Service Agents, and those who did not, like fence-jumpers.
H.R 347 clarified that the penalties in section 1752 of title 18 apply to those who knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so.
Any rumor that the bill restricts free speech rights or criminalizes protesting is simply incorrect.