For the first time in history, video footage of U.S. Supreme Court proceedings has been recorded. The Supreme Court, which does not allow video-taping of its sessions, experienced the security breach on Wednesday when a protester disrupted an oral argument and another spectator filmed the action and posted the video online.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the video story, an activist group called 99Rise claimed credit for Wednesday’s disruption, and the group's logo is featured at the end of the video. The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the courtroom video. The group's mission is to overturn the Citizen's United ruling from 2010 that cleared the way for increased independent corporate and union spending during federal elections
“The technology is now present for a minute camera to be brought into the courtroom. It is surprising to me this hasn’t happened before,” said Richard Davis, a political scientist at Brigham Young University who studies coverage of the Supreme Court. “Will this lead the justices to approve cameras in the courtroom? I doubt it. It may mean they do more to keep cameras–portable ones–out.”
The shaky, low-quality video, just over two minutes long, shows a brief disruption that occurred in the courtroom during an oral argument in a patent case. It also appears to show video taken at a separate oral argument, held last October 8 in a campaign-finance dispute, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, that has yet to be decided.
Noah Kai Newkirk, a 33-year-old from Los Angeles, was the protestor who made the outburst. He was arrested after he was led out of the Supreme Court under a federal law that prohibits making “a harangue or oration” in the Supreme Court building.
Mr. Newkirk, who appeared in a District of Columbia court Thursday, pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges carrying a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. He was released on the condition that he stay away from the high court grounds. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 13. Mr. Newkirk’s court-appointed attorney, Wagner Dantas, declined to comment.