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Man in videotaped protest inside Supreme Court pleads guilty

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A protester who disrupted a Supreme Court proceeding in February, and whose shouts at the justices were secretly recorded on a video that was later posted online, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a misdemeanor offense.

Noah Kai Newkirk, 33, entered his plea in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in Washington, according to court records. He was sentenced to time served - the night he spent in jail after his arrest by court police.

Newkirk, of Los Angeles, California, agreed to stay away from the Supreme Court grounds for a year.

On February 26, Newkirk disrupted an oral argument by standing and speaking out against the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling by the high court that cleared the way for more independent corporate and union spending during federal elections.

The next day, video footage of his protest appeared online. It was believed to be the first time video footage of a Supreme Court proceeding has ever been taken. Video cameras, along with still cameras and any other electronic devices, are not allowed in the courtroom.

Newkirk has declined to say who made the recording or how the scheme was carried out.

"For me, spending a night in jail was well worth it," Newkirk said on Tuesday. He said the incident had led to increased discussion of the role of money in politics and had also inspired others to protest.

Newkirk is a member of a group called 99Rise, which says on its website, www.99rise.org, that its aim is to "get big money out of American politics."

(This version of the story removes the quotation marks from name in paragraph two.)

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Grant McCool)

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