February 27, 2014 / 10:05 PM / 6 years ago

Unauthorized video of U.S. Supreme Court protest posted online

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the first time, video footage of U.S. Supreme Court proceedings has been recorded and posted online.

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 on Wednesday.

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 October 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 (http://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

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