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Desiree A. Fairooz and two "Code Pink" co-conspirators were recently sent to jail and convicted for "parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds" by dressing to be a visible symbol of dissent at Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing.

It was early in the hearing when Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, said that Mr. Sessions’s record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Ariel Gold, the campaign director of Code Pink, said on Wednesday.

Ms. Fairooz said that, on hearing that, she let out a giggle.

“I just couldn’t hold it,” she said on Wednesday. “It was spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance.”

She said when officers came over, she expected to be warned or told to shush and was surprised to be taken into custody...

Ms. Fairooz said the noise was not intended to disrupt the hearing, which had formally been called to order.

“None of us planned to get arrested,” said Ms. Fairooz, who attended the hearing dressed in pink as Lady Liberty and carrying a sign. “We just wanted to be a visible symbol of dissent.”

(The other two had dressed up like Klansmen in a similar expression of dissent against the nominee).

What surprised me most about this story was the codified offense they were convicted of. How do rules against demonstrations come up against the First Amendment to the US constitution?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I'm guessing there's been a prior case validating the constitutionality of outlawing such forms of expressing grievances against the government. Can someone provide a citation or few and clarify what limits, if any, the First Amendment provides to blocks such laws from taking effect?

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The charge is D.C. code § 10–503.16. (Unlawful conduct)

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons willfully and knowingly:

(1) To enter or to remain upon the floor of either House of the Congress, to enter or to remain in any cloakroom or lobby adjacent to such floor, or to enter or to remain in the Rayburn Room of the House or the Marble Room of the Senate, unless such person is authorized, pursuant to rules adopted by that House or pursuant to authorization given by that House, to enter or to remain upon such floor or in such cloakroom, lobby, or room;

(2) To enter or to remain in the gallery of either House of the Congress in violation of rules governing admission to such gallery adopted by that House or pursuant to authorization given by that House;

(3) To enter or to remain in any room within any of the Capitol Buildings set aside or designated for the use of either House of the Congress or any member, committee, subcommittee, officer, or employee of the Congress or either House thereof with intent to disrupt the orderly conduct of official business;

(4) To utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or to engage in any disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings with intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of any session of the Congress or either House thereof, or the orderly conduct within any such building of any hearing before, or any deliberations of, any committee or subcommittee of the Congress or either House thereof;

(5) To obstruct, or to impede passage through or within, the United States Capitol Grounds or any of the Capitol Buildings;

(6) To engage in any act of physical violence upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings; or

(7) To parade, demonstrate, or picket within any of the Capitol Buildings.

This article gives an overview of "exceptions" to limitations on free speech, skipping disorderly conduct. Some examples of relevant case law are Norse v. Santa Cruz 586 F.3d 697, Kindt v. Santa Monica Rent Control Board, 67 F.3d 266, White v. Norwalk 900 F.2d 1421, the gist of which is that a person's First Amendment right to expression does not give one license to bring the operation of government to a halt. What is completely unclear, however, is what level of inconvenience to the function of government crosses that line. In the above cases (and numerous citations therein), the disruption only arose to the level of an annoyance or an insult.

A crucial question is whether a venue is a "public forum" or not. In ISCON v. Lee 505 U.S. 672, it was held that "An airport terminal operated by a public authority is a nonpublic forum, and thus a ban on solicitation need only satisfy a reasonableness standard": likewise, chambers of Congress are not public fora (even if they are public) – note that people cannot simply walk onto the floor of the Senate, or the chambers of SCOTUS, or the Oval Office, and launch into a filibuster on some topic. A street corner, on the other hand, is the epitome of a public forum.

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