(Adds further details on disruption, background)
By Lawrence Hurley and Joan Biskupic
WASHINGTON Feb 27 For the first time, video
footage of U.S. Supreme Court proceedings has been recorded and
The Supreme Court has always barred any type of cameras,
including news media, from recording proceedings.
The video shows a protester who disrupted an oral argument
The shaky, low-quality video, just over two minutes long,
shows a brief disruption that occurred in the courtroom during
an oral argument in a patent case. It also appears to show video
taken at a separate oral argument, held last Oct. 8 in a
campaign-finance dispute, McCutcheon v. Federal Election
Commission, that has yet to be decided.
Video cameras, along with any other electronic devices, are
not allowed in the courtroom. Still cameras are also not
allowed. Spectators are screened by police officers before they
are allowed entry to the courtroom.
Although there has never been video recorded before, there
are incidents of people taking still photographs. There were two
such incidents in the 1930s, according to a 2012 article in
Slate, an online magazine.
On Wednesday, a man stood up in the courtroom and spoke out
during a patent case, objecting to the Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission ruling from 2010 that cleared the
way for increased independent corporate and union spending
during federal elections. The court identified him as Noah
Newkirk of Los Angeles, California. He can be partially seen and
heard in the video footage, which appears to have been shot by
someone he was with.
The video ends with the logo for a group called 99Rise,
which says on its website (www.99rise.org) that its aim
is to "get big money out of American politics."
Newkirk and other representatives of the group could not
immediately be reached for comment.
Police officers removed Newkirk after a brief scuffle. He
was charged with violating a law that prohibits "loud
threatening or abusive language" in the Supreme Court building.
A court spokeswoman said in an email on Thursday that she
was aware of the video.
"Court officials are in the process of reviewing the video
and our courtroom screening procedures," she said. Recording
video violates the court's rules but is not a criminal offense.
The incident could reawaken the debate over whether the
court should allow TV cameras to cover proceedings.
(Additional reporting by Joan Biskupic; Editing by Howard
Goller, Kevin Drawbaugh, Bernard Orr)