Two people who were removed from a speech by President Bush in March have filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were ejected from the event in violation of their First Amendment rights.
Leslie Weise and Alex Young, both of Colorado, claim they were asked to leave a March 21 speech by Bush on Social Security at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum because of a policy that prohibited anyone from attending the event if they held a viewpoint contrary to the president's
Young, 26, and Weise, 39, drove to the event in a car with a bumper sticker that said, "No more blood for oil." The pair also were wearing T-shirts that said "Stop the lies" under their clothes, according to the lawsuit.
After at first being allowed in, Young and Weise claimed a man connected with the event told them the Secret Service wanted to talk to them. A government investigation found the man never identified himself as a federal agent.
Young and Weise then claim they were told it was private event and they would have to leave.
Young and Weise claim their rights to free speech and protection from unreasonable search and seizure were violated. They had tickets to the public event, which was sponsored by the White House.
"We believe that our clients were expelled from this public meeting on the basis of a policy formulated in Washington and implemented throughout the country," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, who is representing the two. "This case is not just about two people, it is about protecting the rights and liberties of every single American."
The ACLU said that similar incidents have occurred at presidential visits across the country. According to news reports, individuals considered to have critical viewpoints were removed or excluded from Social Security town hall meetings in Arizona, North Dakota and New Hampshire.
The suit is not against the White House. It is against the guard, identified at Michael Casper, who is a building manager in the General Services Administration in Denver. Also to be named, the head of the Colorado Federation of Young Republicans, and five unknown individuals involved in the decision to eject the trio.
Casper has acknowledged that he worked the event as a White House volunteer but denied he was the person who ordered the three to be removed from the event.
The people who were removed said the man who forced them to leave was wearing a radio earpiece and a lapel pin that appeared to mimic those worn by Secret Service agents at presidential functions. They also said the man was identified to them as working for the Secret Service.
"The Secret Service had nothing to do with that," said Lon Garner, special agent in charge of the Secret Service district office in Denver. "We are very sensitive to the First Amendment and general assembly rights as protected by the Constitution."
The three people who were ejected have their own Web site with information about their complaint.
ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver contributed to this report.