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Five Protesters Sentenced for 2015 Supreme Court Disruption

By George Khoury, Esq. on July 26, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Five Supreme Court protesters have just been sentenced to six weekends in jail. The group was arrested, and held in custody for 30 hours, after disrupting a 2015 Supreme Court proceeding.

While protesting the Supreme Court is all fine and dandy, doing so inside the actual courtroom is not. The group pleaded guilty to "illegal picketing and haranguing speeches on Supreme Court grounds," earning four of them one weekend in jail, and the fifth receiving two weekends in jail. Additionally, all five defendants have been ordered to stay away from the High Court for one year.

Protesting in a Supreme Courtroom

The five protesters did not attempt to challenge the time, place, and manner restriction of the law this time around, but rather accepted the consequences of their actions. The judge in their cases, explained during sentencing, that courts are a special type of public forum where the public must abide by the rules for the system to work. However, it was noted by the justice that the group that the five associated with had disrupted the Court on three other occasions.

As for the sentencing, prosecutors were pushing for each to be sentenced to a minimum of ten days in order to set an example of these defendants, who have begun calling themselves "the Supreme Court 5." The defendants' attorneys were pushing for no additional sentence to be imposed beyond the 30 hours each had already served. While the court didn't even sentence the group as lightly as they had hoped, they certainly did not get the whole book thrown at them as the maximum sentence could have been up to 60 days.

Previously, this case made its way up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit after it was initially challenged based on the loose language of the statute. However, after the appeals court returned in favor of the prosecutors, the defendants plead guilty to the charges.

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