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Obnoxious but Protected "Speech"

Giving a Nazi salute to the city council during a public meeting is a breach of decorum, but should it get one expelled and arrested?  The Ninth Circuit en banc reversed a summary judgment in favor of the city on procedural grounds in Norse v. Santa Cruz today.  The odd couple of Judges Kozinski and Reinhardt have no doubt Norse should prevail on the merits.

This video (also found in the record) clearly shows that Norse's sieg heil was momentary and casual, causing no disruption whatsoever. It would have remained entirely unnoticed, had a city councilman not interrupted the proceedings to take umbrage and insist that Norse be cast out of the meeting. Councilman Fitzmaurice clearly wants Norse expelled because the "Nazi salute" is "against the dignity of this body and the decorum of this body" and not because of any disruption. But, unlike der F├╝hrer, government officials in America occasionally must tolerate offensive or irritating speech. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971); Duran v. City of Douglas, Ariz., 904 F.2d 1372, 1378 (9th Cir. 1990).

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