Crime & Justice

Court hears free-speech appeal on Nazi salute at Santa Cruz City Council meeting

A man who gave a Nazi salute at a Santa Cruz City Council meeting is having his day in court.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday in Robert Norse's lawsuit that claims Santa Cruz officials violated his constitutional rights eight years ago when they had him removed from the meeting in handcuffs.

Judges questioned which public expressions would be acceptable, ranging from smiling to obscenities.

Norse, a homeless rights activist, gave the salute after the mayor cut off another speaker. A lower court and an earlier appellate panel upheld the city's right to limit comments - including those considered offensive.

But in a rare move, the case is being reheard in Pasadena by the full 11-member appellate panel - and could reach the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.