Protestors have no free speech rights on Supreme Court’s front porch

Robert Barnes (Washington Post) - Protesters do not have a First Amendment right to congregate on the grand marble plaza in front of the Supreme Court, only on the sidewalk in front of it, a unanimous federal appeals court panel ruled Friday.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a law that forbids demonstrations on the grounds of the high court, on the premise that demonstrations on the court’s doorsteps might lead to the perception that the court is swayed by public opinion rather than the dictates of the law.

The law, passed in 1949, “promotes the understanding that the Court resolves the matters before it without regard to political pressure or public opinion,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan, who has argued often before the court as a lawyer and is sometimes mentioned as a future inhabitant of the Supreme Court building.