Wednesday, February 01, 2006

House Rules

I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

Just Dropped In, lyrics by Mickey Newbury

I yawned through most of President Bush's State of the Union speech. The comic relief came when the Democratic side of the isle stood up and applauded after President Bush mentioned that Congress had failed to act on his Social Security reform measures.

The real action was before the show. Cindy Sheehan got a ticket to the show and was thrown out before the whole shebang started. From this ABC news article:

WASHINGTON Feb 1, 2006 — Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, wasn't the only one ejected from the House gallery during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan that violated the rules. The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave.

Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee was removed from the gallery because she was wearing a T-shirt that read, "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom." . . .

She (Sheehan) was sitting about six rows from first lady Laura Bush and asked to leave. She argued with police in the hallway outside the House chamber. . .

Capitol Police took Sheehan, invited as a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., away in handcuffs and charged her with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor. She later was released on her own recognizance...

In her blog, Sheehan wrote that her T-shirt said, "2245 Dead. How many more?" a reference to the number of soldiers killed in Iraq.

But what are the House rules on this sort of thing? Here is what I could find from the Rules of the House of Representatives.

Rule I Preservation of Order

2. The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum and, in case of disturbance or disorderly conduct in the galleries or in the lobby, may cause the same to be cleared.

Rule IV Gallery

6. (a) The Speaker shall set aside a portion of the west gallery for the use of the President, the members of the Cabinet, justices of the Supreme Court, foreign ministers and suites, and the members of their respective families. The Speaker shall set aside another portion of the same gallery for the accommodation of persons to be admitted on the cards of Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner.

(b) The Speaker shall set aside the southerly half of the east gallery for the use of the families of Members of Congress. The Speaker shall control one bench. On the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator, the Speaker shall issue a card of admission to his family, which may include their visitors. No other person shall be admitted to this section.

Rule XVII Galleries

7. During a session of the House, it shall not be in order for a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner to introduce to or to bring to the attention of the House an occupant in the galleries of the House. The Speaker may not entertain a request for the suspension of this rule by unanimous consent or otherwise.


That is about all I could find on first pass through the House Rules. I did not see any House Rules that called for the arrest of anyone in the House. The punishment for disobeying the rules is getting tossed out.

Here is what I would have done if I had been Citizen Sheehan. I would not have worn anything that would draw attention to myself. I would have sat quietly during the proceedings and reaped the camera and media coverage given I was sitting so close to the Presidential box.

I think she blew a great opportunity. Sometimes, "you say it best when you say nothing at all."

I might try to get a pass to the show next year. I think I will wear my Toledo Mudhens t-shirt just to test the limits.

P. S. I did not see where Citizen Young was put in handcuffs and arrested for unlawful conduct. Maybe, I missed it. If it happened, please let me know.

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