Judge Rules Against ‘Occupy The Courts’ Protest Outside Federal Court In NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has blocked protesters from gathering outside a federal courthouse as part of a nationwide demonstration scheduled for Friday, saying the space isn’t a public forum and there are security concerns even beyond worries about its potential as a terrorism target.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Thursday rejected a lawsuit by Occupy the Courts that sought to force the government to issue a permit to let about 200 people demonstrate in front of a lower Manhattan courthouse that has hosted several major terrorism trials and the sentencing of Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff.

The ruling was not expected to deter demonstrators, who were prepared to gather several hundred feet away in a park located among courthouses and federal buildings. Lawyers for the protesters said they had not decided whether to appeal.

The judge said the request for a demonstration from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. had particularly poor timing, given that several hundred people would already clog the entrances of the courthouse as they arrive to attend naturalization ceremonies and because a swearing-in ceremony for a new judge had long been scheduled for the same time period.

The judge said he did not mean his ruling to exclude the possibility that a permit could be ordered for a different time and day. He said the concerns raised by the government were reasonable and it seemed that the ban on demonstrations directly in front of the courthouse was not related to the content of anyone’s message.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Kuehler noted in her arguments that the protesters wanted to gather in an area alongside a street that is closed to traffic with guards and barriers at either end.

“It’s known that this courthouse is on the terrorist target list,” she said.

Kuehler also cited a case in which another federal judge in Manhattan had ruled that the area in front of the courthouse was not a public forum.

Kaplan said there were considerations regarding “safety apart from terrorism and criminal behavior concerns.”

In their lawsuit, protest organizers asked the judge to overturn the General Services Administration’s rejection of their permit application. The lawsuit said the group’s First Amendment rights were violated.

A lawyer for the group, Mark Taylor, said he believed the space in front of the courthouse met the criteria for a public forum just as spaces around courthouses historically have been gathering places for the public.

The protest marks the second anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against limits on spending by independent organizations.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment



    “Change is on the Horizon Part 3 of 3 The Farmer Claims Program ”

    1. wounded defecators project says:

      > Liberal, neo-conservative, useful idiots and critics of Assembly, and frankly haters of truth and freedom, exist by feeding on the entrepreneurial, middle class.
      Which explains why the nation’s respect and admiration are with Occupy and with the Anonymous, Wikileaks and Ruckus brigades. Thank you heroes for your fvcking service, and congrats on Man o’ the Year award.
      For they know, proletariat’s bad children and parasites, sic Zionist apparachik of the Fed, IMF and World Bank, will never admonish the Crony Capitalism feeding their addictions and narcissism. A special interest needful and earnest of all the hearty, steamy excrement patriots can provide. Sh!t and p!ss on, noble flea-baggers and pyros, or let the streets flow with blood.

  2. Winston Smith says:

    So the Court System is saying ‘They’re just a bunch of harmless trolls exercising their ‘Free Speech’ – they’ve got a right to be THERE … BUT NOT IN MY BACK YARD!”


      Do this inside Court!

      [audio src="http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-48361/TS-552473.mp3" /]

  3. I’m a former Marine who intends on being at the Occupy the Courts protest in NYC, permit or not. I did not serve my country, watching my buddies literally lose life and limb, to see freedom of speech perverted by money and meaningless municipal bureaucracy.

    Furthermore, to the uninformed comment made by R. Walters, the Occupy the Courts protest has the very specific qualm of rallying against the Citizens United Decision made in the Supreme Court this time two years ago (which is why the protest is happening on the date it is) which allowed unlimited expenditures to be made on behalf of people running for public office during their campaigns by corporations. The protest goes beyond that, also, to stand against corporate personhood.

    It’s sad but true that many Americans can’t or won’t pay attention to what’s happening in the world around them if that issue is too complicated. We’re dumbing down as a nation. Educate yourself… OCCUPY.

    1. Mac Donald says:

      I respect your service to the country as a member of the armed forces but as an active duty member of the military I have to disagree with the way your organization runs their protests. Peaceful assembly does not include violence, cursing and the throwing of projectiles at the local law enforcement or the blocking of private businesses. I’ve lost members of my military family too and I still believe in this country and still feel it’s better than any country I’ve been to and I have been to plenty.

      You have the right to believe what you want, please allow those who do not agree with you the same right.

      1. Amtracmarine says:

        I agree Mac,100% Jeff, I just don’t see it your way. Sempre Fi buddy

      2. Vernon Hell says:

        Peaceful assembly DOES include cursing! May you BURN IN HELL, fascist.

        1. Honest Rob says:

          Vernon – but it does NOT include attacking Police or those who do not support your message.

          A sure sign of weakness in the message is when the message bearers begin to harass and curse and label others as “fascists” and such.

          I think you are already failing, it seems.

  4. Amtracmarine says:

    Just heard that “Occupy Halem” is going to protest President Obama’s fund raiser tonight. These MF’s are protesting everything.

  5. R. Walters says:

    I have a problem with the PROTEST Group`s lack of sound and cohere rationale for any of their protests.
    It appears to me, that their sole purpose for their demonstratons i just that DEMONSTRATION to harrass and annoy anyone or place in legally established
    organizations or government that opposes any of their norms or beliefs; and only God knows what they might be.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS New York

Get Our Morning Briefs

Watch & Listen LIVE