Last year, seemingly ending a case that had dragged on longer than World War II, San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled
that the City of Santa Cruz was within its rights to twice eject a gadfly from government meetings after he gave officials the Hitlerian salute.
Well, that was then and this is now. The 9th last week allowed
a very rare "en banc" re-hearing of Robert Norse's Hitler-saluting case in front of an 11-judge panel. The terse, one-page statement does not offer any explanation why the court allowed the re-hearing.
While Norse claims his First Amendment rights were violated, the city of Santa Cruz has long maintained it was within his rights to eject anyone who "disrupts the proceedings of the council." And while last year's three-judge panel felt Santa Cruz was well within its rights to give Norse the heave-ho in 2004 after he "was engaged in a parade about the Council chambers, protesting
the Council's action and his conduct was clearly disruptive," the judges were split on just how much of a big deal Norse's 2002 salute was.
In a partial dissent of last year's 2-1 9th Circuit ruling, Judge Wallace Tashima agreed that
Norse's 2004 Nazi-saluting parade was clearly disruptive but his
"fleeting, silent Nazi salute" in 2002 did not raise to that level.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the city has already spent more than $114,000 fighting this suit -- and, if Norse prevails, it'll likely pick up his $100,000 legal bill as well. There are likely plenty of folks in Santa Cruz government who'd like to offer Norse a one-fingered salute of their own.
H/T | Courthouse News