Learning about Our Right to Protest

What happens on the Courthouse Steps when you aren’t wanted there?

Concerned citizens around the country who are planning to demonstrate at the US Supreme Court are watching to see how this issue is handled.

Excerpt from this story:

The media stakeout on the U.S. Supreme Court plaza is a familiar part of argument day in high-profile cases. Lawyers and advocates go before cameras and microphones outside the court as soon as they finish arguing before the justices inside.

Now, that aspect of Supreme Court life is garnering attention itself, in connection with litigation over the constitutionality of a federal law that bans protests on the same marble plaza where the press conferences take place.

In a case challenging that law on First Amendment grounds, the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital is pointing to media gaggles or stakeouts as a fatal sign of inconsistency. The question posed: How can protests be banned, when court officials allow the plaza to be used for other clearly expressive activities protected by the First Amendment?

“Litigants and their advocates gather on the plaza to make their case to the public via the media,” the ACLU’s brief, filed Jan. 31 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, states. “Rather than seeing the court grounds as a sacred place of silent neutrality, the public is accustomed to images of the court grounds serving as an open forum, featuring this expressive activity.”

 

The Daily Report article can be found here.

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