Supremes exempt selves from 1st Amendment

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court justices announced Monday their decision not to review a case challenging speech restrictions on the court’s property.


“Shame on the court for making a mockery of the First Amendment and engaging in a hypocritical double standard that does a grave disservice to its historic stance on free speech,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.


Whitehead’s group has defended Harold Hodge, who was arrested for holding a protest sign on the public plaza in front of the court.


Rutherford argues the court has allowed news conferences, protests and even a wide range of other activities on the site, such as “commercial or professional films.”


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Hodge challenged the court’s regulations as a violation of the First Amendment, and District Judge Beryl Howell sided with Hodge.


“The absolute prohibition of expressive activity in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First Amendment,” Howell wrote. “The court therefore must find the statute unconstitutional and void as applied to the Supreme Court plaza.”


But Howell’s decision was overturned on appeal, and on Monday, the justices refused to hear the case, which, according to Whitehead, effectively exempts the Supreme Court plaza from the First Amendment.


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