MAY 17, 2011
Appeals Court: No Dancing Allowed at Jefferson Memorial

A federal appeals court in Washington today said expressive dancing is prohibited inside the Jefferson Memorial in a decision that upheld the dismissal of a suit alleging government suppression of First Amendment rights.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said expressive dancing “falls into the spectrum” of prohibited activities—including demonstrations, picketing and speechmaking—at the memorial. The rules, the court said, ban conduct that has the “propensity” to draw onlookers. The court’s ruling is here.

The plaintiff, Mary Brooke Oberwetter, who was arrested with other dancers in April 2008, said federal regulations that govern the use of the memorial do not prohibit silent dance. Oberwetter and fellow dancers said they was honoring Jefferson on the eve of his 265th birthday when the authorities interrupted. Police said Oberwetter twice refused to stop dancing.

“Although silent, Oberwetter’s dancing was a conspicuous expressive act with a propensity to draw onlookers,” Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the appeals court. Judges Judith Rogers and David Tatel joined the opinion.

Read more.

5 Comments to “Court ruled on 5/17: No “expressive dancing” allowed inside Jefferson Memorial! (So unexpressive dancing is okay?)”

  • jefferson’s rolling over in his grave weeping. what is the judge thinking? he has apparently never even read the bill of rights… as with most judges, prosecutors, legislators or presidents…

    what does the judge consider ‘protected free expression,’ anyway? are we still allowed to whisper?

  • This doesn’t pass the smell test. And oddly enough Code Pink was arrested for doing the same thing in a staged demonstration…not exactly in stealth mode either. they were wearing code pink t-shirts.
    But I have two questions.
    1: who is Mary Brooke Oberwette
    2: why is every story on this issue written the exact same?

  • There’s plenty about, or by, Oberwetter online. Just do a search.

    Every story is probably this blog item from Legal Times.

  • How about a Tai Chi or a Tai Kwan Do routine?

  • it doesn’t matter that the group was a known protest element or they were there to dance … what is lost here is common sense and good judgement by those in authority … we are losing our liberties to the same element that hated hippies and the peace movement of the sixties and seventies … two of the judges who ruled on no dancing were gwbush appointees the other who concurred was a bill clinton appointee … this is not an american decision … this is not america … it’s a bad precedent … individuals should be attaining more freedom … more liberty … it’s part of the america our fore fathers sought and created … dancing is a celebration … it evokes smiles and enjoyment from on lookers … cops exerting their authority in these two instances shows an element of disregard for others and abuse of their authority … this should really become a major story and legal battle to reach all americans for their review … or we can just let our bill of rights be eroded by an unconstitutional act of absolute authority …

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