Saturday, April 27, 2013

False Arrest at the Supreme Court?

If you go to the Supreme Court and wear a jacket bearing a controversial slogan, can you be arrested? From the BLT blog:

The high court visitor, Fitzgerald Scott, was wearing a jacket painted with the words "Occupy Everywhere." The authorities determined the clothing, with its accompanying message, violated a federal law that restricts certain expressive activity inside the Supreme Court. Scott refused to remove the jacket. He was arrested.

Scott alleges in his suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the authorities had no ground to arrest him. U.S. Justice Department lawyers said in February, in court papers seeking the dismissal of the case, that federal law prohibited the political message on Scott's jacket. Police had ample cause to ask Scott to remove the jacket or leave the building, according to DOJ.

Scott's attorney, Jeffrey Light, a Washington solo practitioner, this week responded to the government's effort to end the case. How to resolve the dispute? Light pointed to a 1971 case in which the high court reversed the conviction of a man who wore a jacket that said "F---k the Draft" inside a courthouse in Los Angeles.

Light called the Supreme Court ruling in Cohen v. California "well-known to any law school graduate." The decision, he said, was "widely celebrated as one of the most important and influential First Amendment cases of the modern era."


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