9th Circuit backs removal of Nazi-saluting man from meetings

Monday, November 9, 2009

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — A federal appeals court has ruled that Santa Cruz City Council members did not violate a man's rights when they ordered him removed from a council meeting after he made a one-armed Nazi salute.

Robert Norse was arrested at the March 2002 meeting after he made the gesture and refused to leave. He was arrested again in 2004 when he refused another order from the City Council to leave after parading around council chambers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 3 that the council was justified in asking Norse to leave both meetings because he was disruptive.

Judge Mary M. Schroeder wrote for the three-judge panel majority in Norse v. City of Santa Cruz that Norse's right to freedom of speech was not violated.

Judge A. Wallace Tashima agreed with the majority with regard to the 2004 incident, but wrote that he disagreed “with the majority’s holding ‘that the defendants did not violate Norse’s constitutional rights’ in ejecting him from the 2002 Council meeting.”

Norse sued the city after his first ejection in 2002. He said his attorney would consider appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.

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