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Supreme Court Limits Protests On Plaza Outside Courthouse

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The Supreme Court may rule on many First Amendment cases, but it's limiting some First Amendment activities on its front step.
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The Supreme Court may rule on many First Amendment cases, but it's limiting some First Amendment activities on its front step.

What had been a relatively common sight in D.C.—crowds of protestors at the U.S. Supreme Court—may be a thing of the past.

In recent years, the crowds outside the Supreme Court have grown larger and large, as Americans showed up to demonstrate for or against various hot button issues. But now the court is clarifying its rules and banning demonstrations on its grounds.

This latest rule was approved just two days after a broader anti-demonstration law, which banned processions and banners, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge on grounds that the first restriction was so broad that it could criminalize preschool students parading through on their first trip to the high court.

The rule, which dates back 60 years but was clarified this year, bans activities such as picketing, speech-making, marching or vigils. It specifically says that "casual use'' by visitors or tourists is not banned.

Even so, the group that challenged the earlier law says the new rule is "repugnant'' to the Constitution and its guaranteed rights of free speech and assembly.

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