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Protesters Disrupt Beginning of U.S. Supreme Court Session

At least five people disrupted the opening session of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

The U.S. Supreme Court says seven protesters were taken into custody for disrupting the first few minutes of the opening session of court proceedings Wednesday. An eighth person who apparently attempted to record a video while the protest was happening was also detained.

The court has yet to identify the protesters. They stood up and shouted phrases in protest of a controversial campaign finance decision — handed down five years ago to the day — before they were hustled away by court security officers. The 5-4 Citizens United decision on January 21, 2010, loosened restrictions on campaign contributions, freeing corporations and labor unions to spend as much money as they want on elections for Congress and the president.

In February 2014, the same group of protesters was involved in a similar disruption inside the court. Los Angeles man Noah Newkirk was hauled from the court by police after standing up and shouting about campaign finance during oral arguments. That month, the group put out a short, shaky video apparently recorded on a cell phone that showed a few seconds of the court during his protest. Cameras and cell phones are banned in the courtroom.

A few weeks later, Newkirk pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disruption charge and was sentenced to time served after spending a night in jail. He was ordered to stay away from the court building for a year. The seven people arrested for protesting Wednesday were charged with the same offense. The eighth person was charged with a conspiracy-related count.


— Pete Williams and Daniel Arkin