A D.C. federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a complaint filed by a man arrested for wearing an "Occupy Everywhere" jacket inside the Supreme Court building last fall. Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that court police officers had probable cause to arrest Fitzgerald Scott for violating the federal law, then in effect, that bans displays or demonstrations on Supreme Court property.
Scott was arrested October 17, 2012, later on the same day that a large "Occupy" protest march took place outside the court. Scott was looking at exhibits on the ground floor of the court when Timothy Dolan, deputy chief of the court court police, approached him to tell him he could not wear the jacket inside the building, but could do so on the public sidewalk outside. Scott refused to take off the jacket or leave, and was arrested.
Charges were ultimately dropped, but Scott filed suit for false arrest and imprisonment under the Federal Tort Claims Act in a case titled Scott v. United States. The government moved to dismiss the suit, and Jackson agreed. Under any test for determining if officers made a false arrest, Jackson said, the court police acted properly. Scott's actions "fell squarely within" the prohibitions of 40 U.S.C. 6135 prohibiting demonstrations on court property. Even if that was not the case, she found that the police acted reasonably.
Jackson noted that the D.C. district court on June 13 struck down Section 6135 as unconstitutional in the case Hodge v. Talkin. But she said that at the time of Scott's arrest, the law had been upheld numerous times. Besides, she said the Scott case was a challenge to the arrest, not a challenge of the constitutionality of the law.
Scott’s lawyer, Jeffrey Light, is planning to take the dispute to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.