WASHINGTON -- Over 30 people arrested for protesting the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 plan to file a petition with the court Thursday asking the justices to strike down a statute that bans protests on the high court's grounds, which they say violates the First Amendment.
Of 80 protesters arrested on Jan. 11, 2008, while demonstrating against the Guantanamo prison on the steps of the court opposite the U.S. Capitol, 34 are involved in the current effort. The demonstrators were convicted by the District of Columbia Superior Court of violating a law that makes it illegal to demonstrate -- or parade, stand or move in processions or assemblages -- on Supreme Court grounds or in the court's buildings. In 2011, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the convictions.
Attorney Mark Goldstone, who also advises members of the Stop the Machine protest that has been camped out on Freedom Plaza since Oct. 6, said the petition will be filed by Monday.
The Supreme Court agrees to hear very few of the petitions filed with it, and the court turned down an almost identical petition earlier this year.
Goldstone told The Huffington Post in an interview that he's "basically taking another shot." Given how political the court is seen as having become, there's likely to be an increase in the number of protests occurring on the court's marble steps, Goldstone said, which means the number of arrests for unlawful protests on the court's grounds is also likely to increase. Goldstone also represented noted academic Cornel West and 18 other protesters arrested for protesting on Supreme Court grounds last Sunday. Those charges were dropped on Monday.
"The Supreme Court may as well answer the question once and for all, if the statute, which appears blatantly unconstitutional, can survive constitutional muster," Goldstone said.