- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rep. Trey Gowdy blasted National Parks Service director Jonathan Jarvis during a House hearing Wednesday morning, in which he accused Mr. Jarvis of favoring “pot-smoking” Occupy protesters over American war veterans.

The South Carolina Republican pressed Mr. Jarvis to cite a specific regulation that permitted the Parks Service to shut down public parks on the first day of the government shutdown.

“On the very first day of the closure, I implemented a closure order for all 401 national parks in compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act,” Mr. Jarvis said. “And immediately, that day, also included, as a part of that order, that First Amendment activities would be permitted on the National Mall.”

Mr. Gowdy then asked, “Do you consider it First Amendment activity to walk to a monument that you helped build, or is it only just smoking pot at McPherson Square?”

“We are content-neutral on First Amendment and on the National Mall,” Mr. Jarvis responded.

“That wasn’t my question,” Mr. Gowdy fired back. “Do you consider it to be an exercise of your First Amendment rights to walk to a monument that you helped build?”

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Mr. Jarvis then insinuated that individuals could visit the memorials if they “declare” they are there to exercise their First Amendment rights.

“Who were they to declare it to?” Mr. Gowdy angrily interrupted. “A barricade? … I want the record to reflect that no statute or code of the federal regulation was cited to justify the erection of barricades.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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