I know that many people in the USA are confused about what, exactly, constitutes free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment. I thought I was fairly clear on it, until I read this article in today's Washington Post. I was mystified; I looked up the statute. Read 'em and weep, my fellow citizens. washingtonpost.com - nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines From the article: You might call Sheila Stumph a habitual offender. Her crime: civil disobedience. Like countless other protesters drawn to the nation's capital over the years, Stumph isn't the type to keep quiet about the world's ills, as she sees them. It's her nature to speak up, to demonstrate, to loudly beg to differ until the police haul her away. How many arrests? "Oh, maybe nine or 10," she said yesterday, bundled against the cold outside the Supreme Court. It was the 30th anniversary of the resumption of capital punishment in the United States, and a dozen activists, including Stumph, 29, of North Carolina, showed up to protest the death penalty. Nine of the demonstrators planned to be arrested (though not Stumph, who had her 3-month-old daughter with her). <...> She watched from the sidewalk as nine protesters -- including her husband, Scott Langley, 30 -- waited in line with tourists on the marble plaza in front of the court building, then stepped out and unfurled a 30-foot banner: "STOP EXECUTIONS!" Police moved in casually, allowing the demonstrators a few minutes to chant and make speeches before they were asked to disperse. They, of course, refused. It's against the law to "make a harangue" on Supreme Court property. The officers calmly handcuffed the passive protesters. <...> Paul Duggan, staff writer The section of US Code is 40 USC 6135, and the text is as follows (my emphasis): -CITE- 40 USC Sec. 6134 01/03/05 -EXPCITE- TITLE 40 - PUBLIC BUILDINGS, PROPERTY, AND WORKS SUBTITLE II - PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND WORKS PART C - FEDERAL BUILDING COMPLEXES CHAPTER 61 - UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT BUILDING AND GROUNDS SUBCHAPTER IV - PROHIBITIONS AND PENALTIES -HEAD- Sec. 6134. Firearms, fireworks, speeches, and objectionable language in the Supreme Court Building and grounds -STATUTE- It is unlawful to discharge a firearm, firework or explosive, set fire to a combustible, make a harangue or oration, or utter loud, threatening, or abusive language in the Supreme Court Building or grounds. -SOURCE- (Pub. L. 107-217, Aug. 21, 2002, 116 Stat. 1183.) -MISC1- I can certainly understand that there would be some restrictions inside the Supreme Court building; but restricting free speech and peaceable assembly outside the building is just simply outrageous - and patently not Constitutional. As long as a person is not blocking access or making threats or creating a physical hazard, the First Amendment applies... or so I thought.