Rare protest disrupts U.S. Supreme Court session

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:14pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Supreme Court oral argument was disrupted on Wednesday by a rare outburst from a protester who assailed a 2010 ruling on campaign finance.

The man interrupted proceedings in the patent case by shouting slogans like "Money is not speech," "Corporations are not people" and "Overturn Citizens United."

The man, identified as Noah Newkirk of Los Angeles, California, was protesting the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling which cleared the way for increased independent corporate and union spending during federal elections.

Police officers removed Newkirk after a brief scuffle. He has been charged with violating a law that prohibits "loud threatening or abusive language" in the Supreme Court building, a court spokeswoman said.

Afterward, Chief Justice John Roberts told the lawyer addressing the court from the lectern: "You have three minutes remaining."

None of the nine justices commented on the scuffle from the bench.

Outbursts in the Supreme Court are rare. The most high-profile incident took place in 1983, when Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt was ejected from the court for shouting obscenities at the justices during oral arguments in a libel case.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Joan Biskupic and Diane Bartz; Editing by Howard Goller and Richard Chang)

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