March 4, 2013
Florida man deserved to be arrested inside the Supreme Court building last year for wearing a jacket painted with “Occupy Everything,” and is lucky he was only apprehended on unlawful entry charges, the US Department of Justice says.
The President Barack Obama administration made that assertion in a legal filing in response to a lawsuit brought by Fitzgerald Scott, who is seeking $1 million (£664,805) in damages for his January 2012 arrest inside the Supreme Court building. He also wants his arrest record expunged.
What’s more, the authorities said the former Marine’s claim that he was protected by the First Amendment bolsters the government’s position (.pdf) because the Supreme Court building’s public interior is a First Amendment-free zone.
Fitzgerald was not disturbing anybody, but was repeatedly told by court staff to leave the building or remove the coat. Outside the building, about a dozen “Occupy” protesters were arrested.
Inside, Fitzgerald was handcuffed and arrested for unlawful entry as he was viewing an exhibit on slavery.