U.S. Supreme Court

Justices Appear Sympathetic to Secret Service in First Amendment Suit by Arrested Protester

Even some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices appeared to side with the Secret Service on Wednesday as they considered whether agents should be immune from suits over protester arrests.

Steven Howards of Golden, Colo., claims he was arrested in retaliation for his First Amendment activity in 2006 when he confronted then-Vice President Dick Cheney at a Beaver Creek shopping center. Howards told Cheney his Iraq policies are “disgusting,” touched or possibly slapped Cheney’s shoulder, then denied the touch.

Justices remarked on the need for Secret Service agents to make decisions without fear of lawsuits, according to the New York Times and SCOTUSblog. “The question that appeared to divide the justices,” the Times says, “was whether all law enforcement officials should be protected from lawsuits alleging that arrests were made in retaliation for speech protected by the First Amendment.”

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court Grants Cert in Case of Man Arrested for Confrontation with Cheney”

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