House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared confused in an interview this week about what kind of speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
“The Constitution does not say that a person can shout…yell ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater. If you are endangering people, then you don’t have a constitutional right to do that,” Pelosi said in an interview on Wednesday with San Francisco TV station KRON.
The Democrat seemingly meant to paraphrase an opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in the landmark free speech case, Schenck v. United States (1919).
“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic,” Holmes wrote in his opinion.
Pelosi offered up the mixed metaphor after being asked about a request she made with the National Park Service to deny a permit to Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that has plans to hold a rally at San Francisco’s Crissy Field this weekend.
The National Park Service initially withheld the permit until Patriot Prayer’s organizers agreed to certain conditions aimed at limiting the risk of violence at the event.
“My hope is the park service would not allow these elements to use a national park to spew forth their venom,” Pelosi said in the interview.