The President has signed the bill, H.R. 347 into Law on March 9, 2012.
Here's what you need to know about it:
Text of First Amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Reality check of the implications of the new law from a local news station in Ohio:
Interesting side notes from the ACLU blog on H.R. 347:
It's important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn't create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests.
The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.
These restricted areas include locations where individuals under Secret Service protection are temporarily located, and certain large special events like a presidential inauguration. They can also include large public events like the Super Bowl and the presidential nominating conventions (troublingly, the Department of Homeland Security has significant discretion in designating what qualifies as one of these special events).
The original statute, unchanged by H.R. 347,made certain conduct with respect to these restricted areas a crime, including simple trespass, actions in or near the restricted area that would "disrupt the orderly conduct of Government," and blocking the entrance or exit to the restricted area.
H.R. 347 did make one noteworthy change, which may make it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.
Without getting too much into the weeds, most crimes require the government to prove a certain state of mind. Under the original language of the law, you had to act "willfully and knowingly" when committing the crime. In short, you had to know your conduct was illegal. Under H.R. 347, you will simply need to act "knowingly," which here would mean that you know you're in a restricted area, but not necessarily that you're committing a crime.
As I have said before, in other polemics about the evil of big Government, they .gov opens the door with a (legislative) toe, then a foot, then a leg, then a (literal) SWAT team.
The individuals who willfully and knowingly participated in this criminal violation of the constitution broke their oath:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
-Members of Congress who voted for the bill.
-The President of the United States.
-Any federal or local law enforcement that will enforce it.
-Anyone who ever took the oath who votes for an oathbreaker.