On June 11, a federal district judge declared a law forbidding any protests on the grounds of the Supreme Court, overturning 40 U.S.C. § 6135. Two days later, the Supreme Court itself reasserted that same ban in a new regulation based on 40 U.S.C. § 6102, which says:
(a) Authority of the Marshal. – In addition to the restrictions and requirements specified in subchapter IV, the Marshal of the Supreme Court may prescribe regulations, approved by the Chief Justice of the United States, that are necessary for – (1) the adequate protection of the Supreme Court Building and grounds and of individuals and property in the Building and grounds; and (2) the maintenance of suitable order and decorum within the Building and grounds.
The new regulation says:
This regulation is issued under the authority of 40 U.S.C. § 6102 to protect the Supreme Court building and grounds, and persons and property thereon, and to maintain suitable order and decorum within the Supreme Court building and grounds. Any person who fails to comply with this regulation may be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment pursuant to 40 U.S.C. § 6137. This regulation does not apply on the perimeter sidewalks on the Supreme Court grounds. The Supreme Court may also make exceptions to this regulation for activities related to its official functions.
No person shall engage in a demonstration within the Supreme Court building and grounds. The term “demonstration” includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers. The term does not include casual use by visitors or tourists that is not reasonably likely to attract a crowd or onlookers.
All regulations of this type must be approved by Chief Justice John Roberts, so this does not bode well for free speech if the ruling this new regulation responds to is appealed. And it’s really rather appalling that the body that exists to enforce the constitution deems itself off limits to citizens exercising their freedom of speech and assembly.
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