By Jim Fitzgerald
The mere presence of Vice President Dick Cheney does not turn West Point into a public forum and is not an "open invitation" to protesters, a federal appeals court said Friday. Cheney is scheduled to deliver the commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy on Saturday and about 1,000 people had hoped to march onto the campus for an anti-war demonstration.
But the Army denied permission, a federal judge in White Plains agreed and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Friday to issue a preliminary injunction that would allow the march. The would-be protesters, the Democratic Alliance of Orange County and several individuals, argued that Cheney is likely to speak in support of the war in Iraq and they should be allowed to express an opposing view. The three-judge panel disagreed, saying the protesters had misunderstood how the First Amendment applies inside a military base.